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Nuclear Theory

Program Head: Volker Koch

The Nuclear Theory Program at LBNL covers a wide spectrum of nuclear physics, ranging from high-energy heavy-ion physics to nuclear structure, nuclear astrophysics and QCD in hadronic physics. The research program is particularly focused on the study of the physical properties of nuclear matter under extreme conditions- from the formation of the quark-gluon plasma in high-energy heavy-ion collisions to dense matter in neutron stars, from effective field theories for few-body systems to macroscopic properties of super-deformed nuclei and production of superheavy elements. We seek theoretical understanding of properties of nuclear matter under different conditions from both fundamental and effective theories of the strong interaction by developing phenomenological methods for the analysis and interpretation of experimental data.

We have shifted our research in the area of low-energy nuclear physics from nuclear structure and reaction dynamics to an effective field theory treatment of many-body nucleon interactions. Such a model-independent approach to low-energy nuclear physics holds promise for understanding and solving many-body nucleon problems. In the last two years, we have made significant progress in the study of few-nucleon systems. We have recently joined an effort to calculate the fundamental nuclear forces from lattice QCD.

The high-energy nuclear physics program continues to concentrate on physics problems relevant to high-energy heavy-ion collisions and the formation of the quark-gluon plasma, including the effect of QCD phase transitions in neutron stars. We have been actively involved in the phenomenological study and interpretation of the new and exciting data from RHIC. The collaboration between our Nuclear Theory Program and the Relativistic Nuclear Collisions (RNC) group has become more fruitful than ever.

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