A&S Physics Contributes to Groundbreaking Experiment

By Jenny Wells and Sara Shoemaker

Courtesy of Andy Sproles/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Christopher Crawford, an associate professor of physics and astronomy in the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences, along with many of his current and former students, are contributing co-authors on a groundbreaking experiment that was recently featured as the Editor’s Choice in Physical Review Letters, the American Physical Society's scientific journal.

In an experiment carried out at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, experimental physicists were able for the first time to measure the weak interaction between protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. The project culminates decades of work performed on the experiment known as NPDGamma.

Crawford has been contributing to the NPDGamma experiment since 2005, commissioning the experimental apparatus and collecting data at Los Alamos National Laboratory before the experiment was moved to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. UK has been involved in the Oak Ridge effort since Crawford was hired in 2007.

"We have been involved in many aspects of the experiment, from computer simulations of neutrons to developing software and data acquisition programs used by the collaboration for data analysis,” said Craword, who is the principal investigator from UK on the experiment. "Our group helped recondition the gamma-ray detectors and calibrated their acceptance for the Oak Ridge measurement. UK graduate student Elise Tang (now a postdoc at Los Alamos National Lab) analyzed the first batch of data at Oak Ridge and determined how to characterize background noise from signatures in the data."

Crawford's team which participated in the NPDGamma experiment includes postdoctoral scholar Mark McCrea, graduate students Aaron Sprow, Elise Tang and Latiful Kabir, and undergraduate students Kayla Craycraft, Charles Fieseler, Forest Simmons and Robert Milburn.

See the full press release at www.ornl.gov/news/precision-experiment-first-isolate-measure-weak-force-between-protons-neutrons.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue


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