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The Nuclear Matter team studies the structure of atomic nuclei through the detection of gamma photons emitted by them. This research allows us to better understand the matter that surrounds us as well as the exotic elements involved in particular in certain astrophysical phenomena.

At the heart of the matter that surrounds us, atomic nuclei are microscopic but complex objects. The nucleons that make them up are linked by the strong fundamental nuclear interaction, and follow the laws of quantum physics. Thus, a nucleus can be in different states depending on the distribution and movement of the nucleons. Beyond the fundamental state – of lower energy – there is a multitude of excited states. The properties of these states depend on the strong interaction, and how a composite system reacts to it.

We use the detection of gamma radiation – much more energetic than visible light – emitted when a nucleus de-excites: this experimental technique allows us to study the states linked by such transitions. In this context, we are involved in the development of new, more efficient and high-resolution gamma detectors. These advances are essential for the study of so-called exotic nuclei: these nuclei, which are very unstable, can only be produced in small quantities. Although they are absent on Earth, they are involved in astrophysical processes, notably supernovae, which have enabled the production of the nuclei that make up ordinary matter. The study of these nucleosynthesis processes is also part of our activities.