Unexpected inhibition of fusion in nucleus-nucleus collisions

A. C. Berriman, D. J. Hinde*, M. Dasgupta, C. R. Morton, R. D. Butt, J. O. Newton

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    182 Citations (Scopus)


    Unstable heavy atomic nuclei not found in nature can be created by fusing two stable nuclei, in a process analogous to colliding charged droplets of liquid. Recently, the formation of a handful of super-heavy nuclei with atomic numbers 114 (ref. 1) and 116 (reft 2) has been achieved by fusion of heavy nuclei. The electrostatic energy of such systems is very large (which is the reason super-heavy nuclei are unstable), so although the two nuclei may initially be captured by the nuclear potential, rather than fusing, they almost always separate after transfer of mass to the lighter nucleus. This process, called quasi-fission3,4, can inhibit fusion by many orders of magnitude. Understanding this inhibition may hold the key to forming more super-heavy elements. Theoretically, inhibition is predicted (ref. 5 and references therein) when the product Z1Z2 of the charges of the projectile and target nuclei is larger than about 1,600. Here we report measurements of three fusion reactions with Z1Z2 around half this value, each forming 88216 Ra. We find convincing model-independent evidence both of inhibition of fusion, and of the presence of quasi-fission. These results defy interpretation within the standard picture of nuclear fusion and fission.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)144-147
    Number of pages4
    Issue number6852
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2001


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