July 16, 2009

Scientists create strongest neutron beam

Japanese-led researchers say they've created the strongest neutron beam in the world, enabling the exploration of laws governing all matter in the universe.

The creation of the beam is the first major experimental achievement at the Radioactive Isotope Beam Factory, part of the Japan-funded Riken Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science near Tokyo. Researchers said the new beam can achieve in eight hours what it would take other scientists more than six months to accomplish.

The scientists said the neutron rich isotope beam of neon-32 fires at 60 percent the speed of light and can explore a region of the nuclear chart where standard laws of nuclear physics break down. Populated by highly unstable neutron-rich isotopes, the region, known as the island of inversion, is thought to offer clues about underlying laws governing all matter in the universe, the researchers said.

The study that included scientists from China, Germany and France appears in the journal Physical Review Letters.