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Professor Jacek Dobaczewski
University of York
Research Project Grant
2021

Designer nuclei and molecules

Jacek Dobaczewski and his team combine current cutting-edge knowledge of particles, nuclei and molecules to enable the study of the broken symmetries that gave origin to our Universe

If the laws of physics were perfectly symmetric, the world around us would not exist. Which symmetries were broken to create overwhelmingly more matter than anti-matter in the universe? And what is their role in the formation of matter and the emergence of life? This work aims to provide answers to these major open questions of modern science, through a detailed understanding of how nuclear phenomena affect the structure of molecules. This is critical to interpreting current experiments. Our first goal will be to look at the properties of RaF (radium fluoride) molecules.
 

I will collaborate closely with Professors Garcia Ruiz (MIT), Borschevsky (University of Groningen) and Haxton (University of California). They will provide key expertise in the experimental aspects of the project, in quantum chemistry and in physics of elementary particles and fundamental interactions. This will be instrumental for our work on theoretical developments in nuclear physics that we will conduct at the University of York.
 

Our understanding of the universe is on the verge of a revolutionary change. The most fundamental models of physics fail to explain how the symmetries of nature were broken to give birth to our Universe. Moreover, experimental evidence has unambiguously demonstrated that visible matter is just a small fraction (5%) of the total matter in the universe. Which symmetries were broken and how was matter created? And what is the nature of the remaining 95% of the universe, commonly called dark matter and dark energy? These are some of the major open questions at the centre of modern subatomic physics and cosmology. These questions have attracted great attention not only from scientific communities but also from the media and the public. Recent examples are the possible new discovery announcement in the ‘g-2’ measurement of the muon magnetic moment and the Higgs discovery, awarded a Nobel Prize in 2013. These results, obtained from multi-billion large-scale experimental infrastructures, provide important milestones in our fundamental understanding of the universe. However, the main questions remain unanswered. Precision ‘table-top’ experiments with atoms and molecules have recently emerged as compelling and cost-effective alternatives to study the most fundamental laws of nature; which is the approach we will use in this project.

Image: Ronald Fernando Garcia Ruiz.

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