Kovash Receives Department of Energy Nuclear Physics Grant

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By Jenny Wells

Michael Kovash, a professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences, has received a $341,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Physics to study internal structures of high energy gamma rays and protons and neutrons. 

Both protons and neutrons possess internal structures which determine the form and strength of their interactions with each other, and with external probes such as the electromagnetic field. By measuring the characteristics of the interaction between high energy gamma rays and protons and neutrons, scientists can infer detailed information about these internal structures. Kovash and his team will use the energetic gamma ray beams at the High Intensity Gamma-Ray Source at Duke University to study both proton and neutron polarizabilities. Gamma rays will be scattered from cryogenic targets of liquid hydrogen and liquid deuterium, and detected in NaI crystals.

Both the energy dependence and the angular distribution of the scattering process will be observed, allowing detailed comparisons with model calculations of nucleon structure. Novel features of the current investigation include both the use of beams of spin-polarized gamma rays, and data collection from a very large, high resolution NaI detector called DIANA.

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