Newswise — The Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) recently released its 2023 report Long-term plan for nuclear science (LRP). This comprehensive plan charts the course for national nuclear science research programs over the next decade.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, with its world-class nuclear physics facilities and expertise, is poised to play a central role in achieving the goals set forth in the LRP.
“Our state-of-the-art facilities, dedicated researchers, and unwavering commitment to scientific excellence at Argonne make us a driving force in advancing the field of nuclear science. — Fredrik Tovesson, director of the Argonne Physics division
The NSAC advises the DOE and the National Science Foundation and is periodically charged with developing a framework for the coordinated advancement of U.S. nuclear science research programs, based on community input. The new LRP is the eighth such plan released by the NSAC since 1979 and the first in nearly eight years.
Nuclear science is a multidisciplinary field focused on understanding the fundamental properties and interactions of atoms. nuclei and their constituent particles. It seeks to answer profound questions about the nature of matter and nuclear forces, the creation of the elements and the conditions of the early universe. It also plays a crucial role in addressing major challenges in energy, health and national security.
“Since the release of the last Long Range Plan, the landscape of nuclear science has evolved significantly,” said Kawtar Hafidi, Argonne Laboratory associate director for physical sciences and engineering. “Today, we stand on the precipice of exciting discoveries, revolutionary technological advances and new challenges. The 2023 Long-Term Plan serves as our compass, guiding us toward the most pressing questions and promising opportunities in the field.
The paper highlights current scientific opportunities in nuclear physics to maintain global leadership in the context of four different budget scenarios and details progress made since the last LRP. It also highlights the impact of nuclear science on other areas and applications of research that benefit society.
“Our state-of-the-art facilities, dedicated researchers, and unwavering commitment to scientific excellence at Argonne make us a driving force in advancing the field of nuclear science,” said Fredrik Tovesson, director of the Argonne Physics Division. “This plan is a testament to our nation’s collective pursuit of the knowledge and practical impact that nuclear science can produce, and we are excited by the opportunities ahead.”
The Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Argonne, is critical to achieving the goals outlined in the 2023 LRP. The document describes ATLAS as the first superconducting linear accelerator in the world for heavy ions and the first DOE-funded stable beam facility for nuclear physics.
ATLAS research programs focus on questions central to our understanding of matter and the astrophysical processes that generate energy and produce elements in stars. The facility is equipped to produce a wide range of stable ion beams, ranging from protons to uranium, with beam energies resembling the conditions of nuclear reactions in the cosmos. These ions can be delivered to one of many unique instruments in the world.
Argonne researchers also advance nuclear science through research and development in support of other DOE facilities, including the Michigan State University Rare Isotope Beam Facility, the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and the upcoming electron-ion collider. at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. Additionally, Argonne’s Center for Accelerator Target Science supports low-energy nuclear physics research by providing stable, radioactive targets to a variety of stakeholders, including dozens of laboratories in the United States and abroad.
Argonne is also committed to fostering diversity in the future nuclear science workforce, recognizing the critical role diversity plays in driving innovation. Initiatives including educational programs, mentoring opportunities, and outreach efforts aim to attract and support individuals from underrepresented groups in the scientific community.
As part of the LRP announcement activities, Argonne hosted one of 21 satellite events across the country on October 6. Gail Dodge, dean of the College of Science at Old Dominion University and president of NSAC, attended the events virtually to discuss the LRP. with participants across the country. Argonne attendees also heard from Hafidi and other members of Argonne leadership about how the LRP will help guide Argonne’s research efforts.
Dozens of researchers participated in a working group that led the development of the LRP, including three Argonne scientists: physicist Michael Carpenter; Ian Cloët, deputy director of the Physics division and group leader; and chemist and group leader Richard Wilson.