Nuclear scientists highlight key property that drives neutron decay
An international team of scientists has calculated the most precise value of axial.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

An international team that includes scientists from the multipleU.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories has calculated the highest-precision value yet of a fundamental property of protons and neutrons called axial coupling.

Axial coupling determines the strength of the interactions that causes neutrons to decay into protons, and can be used to determine the lifespan of neutrons.

"The fact that neutrons decay into protons is a very, very important fact in the universe," said Enrico Rinaldi, who helped develop simulations that are essential to the new calculation. "It basically tells you how atomic nucleimade of protons and neutronswere created after the Big Bang."

In order to calculate axial coupling, the team used resources from the DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)

"This was an intense two-and-a-half-year project that only came together because of the great team of people working on it," said Andr Walker-Loud from Berkeley Lab.

The team hopes to use supercomputers to generate more statistics and drive the value's margin of uncertainty down to approximately 0.3 percent.

"That's where we can actually begin to discriminate between the results from the two different experimental methods of measuring the neutron lifetime," said Chia Cheng "Jason" Chang, a postdoc at Berkeley Lab. "That's always the most exciting part: When the theory has something to say about the experiment."

The findings were published in Nature.

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