NSF funds NSCL with $100 million

The US National Science Foundation has awarded the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at Michigan State University more than $100 million to fund operations through 2011. Established in 1963, the NSCL is the largest nuclear-science facility on a university campus in the US and educates about 10% of US nuclear-science doctoral students.

Much of the new funding will support the ongoing operation of the NSCL as a user facility and the work of NSCL nuclear scientists, which includes developing specialized methods of production and in-flight separation of nuclei with unusual proton-to-neutron ratios.

The NSCL's Coupled Cyclotron Facility is one of the leading user facilities for rare-isotope research, serving more than 700 users from 100 institutions in 35 countries. Fast beam techniques developed there have already advanced efforts to determine the basic properties of rare isotopes. In addition, researchers at the NSCL have implemented ion-trap techniques for precision experiments after slowing isotopes from more than 100 MeV per nucleon to thermal energies. Associate director Thomas Glasmacher received the 2006 Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences for developing new, sensitive techniques to study the structure of exotic nuclei.

Currently, the NSCL is implementing the capability to re-accelerate stopped rare isotopes for studies at energies near the Coulomb barrier. In collaboration with its user community, it is developing plans for a significant upgrade to its MSU-based laboratory, with the Isotope Science Facility as its working name.

Further reading

For more information about the NSCL see www.nscl.msu.edu.

East meets West at Rencontres in Hanoi

Two Rencontres du Vietnam held in Hanoi in August allowed physicists from Vietnam and neighbouring countries to meet with those from more distant place s, including Europe and the US. Organized by Jean Tran Thanh Van, the parallel meetings on Challenges in Particle Astrophysics, and Nanophysics: from Fundamentals to Applications attracted more than 400 participants, including two Nobel laureates, James Cronin and Klaus von Klitzing. Highlights included a tour of the experimental facilities of VATLY, the cosmic-ray research group at the Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, Hanoi, which is working with the Auger Collaboration under the leadership of Vo Van Thuan, former director of the Institute, and Pierre Darriulat, former research director of CERN.

The meetings also allowed Vietnamese physicists to express their interest in collaborating with CERN, particularly on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and on theoretical physics. A group led by Nguyen Mong Giao from Ho Chi Minh City is already participating in the D0 experiment at Fermilab, and is now exploring contacts with the ATLAS collaboration at the LHC, while a group led by Nguyen Mau Chung from Hanoi is working with the LHCb collaboration. The Institut national de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne are already supporting these initiatives, as is the president of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Dang Vu Minh.

Participants in the 2006 Rencontres du Vietnam saw the rapid economic strides now being made by Vietnam. The omens are good for a growing Vietnamese presence at CERN, where several Vietnamese physicists are already active.