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Nuclear Physics at INFN Padova

Nuclear Physics has been present in Padova since the foundation of the INFN in 1951 thanks to the research on radioactivity carried out by the ‘Via Panisperna boys’: eventually the interest in this new field led to the discovery of new radioactive elements and of nuclear fission by means of slow neutrons.

Today the research in nuclear physics covers a broader energy range: from the mechanisms governing the stars’ evolution to the conditions of the universe a few seconds after the Big Bang. Nowadays, nuclear physics embraces many other fields of study beyond the direct study of the nucleus itself including i.e. matter – anti-matter experiments, the distribution of the quarks inside the nucleons or the nuclear properties from a mesoscopic multi-body point of view. At a national level the research is coordinated by the National Scientific Committee 3 and on a local level by Group 3.

The INFN division in Padova participates in the following research activities in this field:

AEGIS Antimatter Experiment: Gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy

is an experiment aimed at answering the question of whether antimatter falls in the Earth’s gravitational field with the same value of acceleration “g” as ordinary matter. The existence of an asymmetry in the free fall of matter and antimatter could help explain the apparent scarcity of antimatter in the known universe, an issue known as the baryon asymmetry problem.   More info.
Local coordinator: Giancarlo Nebbia

ALICE A Large Ion Collider Experiment

studies the results of the interactions between heavy nuclei accelerated to high energies in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The extreme conditions of the collision mimic those of the primordial universe a few seconds after the Big Bang, when matter constituents like quarks and gluons were free and not confined in protons and neutrons as they are nowadays. The study of this phase of the evolution of the universe helps us understand the processes in which the particles were formed that we observe today in nature and in particle accelerators. More info.
Local coordinator: Andrea Rossi

AsFiN AstroFisica Nucleare

is a research group studying nuclear reactions of astrophysical importance, like the formation of light nuclei during the first phases of our universe, nuclear fusion inside young stars and in more advanced stages up to explosive processes as might be a supernova. A technique called the ‘Trojan Horse Method’ allows to study these processes, which would be very difficult to recreate directly in a laboratory, in an indirect way.  More info.
Local coordinator: Marco Mazzocco

EIC NETwork Electron Ion Collider

will be a particle accelerator in Brookhaven (USA) where electrons will collide with protons and nuclei. Its purpose is to reveal the distribution of quarks and gluons inside protons and neutrons, to study the nuclear force and to understand how macroscopic properties – like the mass of a particle – emerge from the dynamics of the nucleus’ constituents.   More info.
Local coordinator: Rosario Turrisi

ENSAR 2 European Nuclear Science and Applications Research

is an activity of integration and networking for European scientists in the field of nuclear physics. Within this initiative, the Padova group coordinates the Nuclear Spectroscopy Instrumentation Network (NuSpIn), which focuses on strengthening the community of researchers in the field of nuclear structure by a continuous knowledge and technology transfer and furthering a synergic approach between the collaborations active at the European Infrastructure Facilities. ENSAR2 is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 under Grant agreement Nr. 654002.   More info.
Local coordinator: Silvia Lenzi


studies nuclear structure by measuring the radiation emitted by unstable nuclei, that is those nuclei where there is an unbalance between the number of protons and neutrons with respect to stable ones. The detection of this ‘gamma’ radiation requires many detectors in order to cover the large surface where the decay products are displaced. The nuclei under study are produced in national and international facilities.   More info.
Local coordinator: Roberto Menegazzo

JLAB12 Jefferson Lab

includes all the experiments at Jefferson Lab in which the INFN is involved. The Jefferson Lab is a nuclear physics facility in the USA, equipped with an electron accelerator. The goal is to study the structure and dynamics of particles composed of quarks, that is protons, neutrons or nuclei, by scattering electrons off nuclear targets. The Padova group is involved in a research activity at JLab searching for dark matter.   More info.
Local coordinator: Gabriele Simi

LUNA Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics

aims at reproducing in the laboratory the nuclear reactions that generate most of the energy produced in stars and that lead to the stellar and primordial formation of elements.
Since these reactions are very rare and difficult to measure in an ordinary laboratory, LUNA is collocated at the INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratories that, thanks to the 1400 m of rock overburden, provides an environment of “cosmic silence”.   More info.
Local coordinator: Antonio Caciolli


In certain conditions of mass and energy density, ordinary matter undergoes a transition to a phase made up of its elementary constituents, quarks and gluons. Na60+ is a proposal for an experiment to explore the conditions and peculiarities of this transition to ‘unbound’ constituents, with the final goal of a significant step forward in our understanding of the strong interaction. The experiment will use the particle beam from the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) at CERN.   More info.
Local coordinator: Andrea Dainese


The goal of the Nucl-Ex collaboration is to answer the following questions: how does a nucleus form? What is its structure? And how does this structure affect the formation of the elements that make up the matter of the universe? Innovative detectors and ion accelerators are used in order to capture a snapshot of the nuclear reaction that allows to characterize the nuclear process by identifying and tracking the emitted particles and to extract precious information to further our knowledge on nuclear processes.   More info.
Local coordinator: Daniela Fabris


is an experiment for the study of nuclear reactions of heavy ions, in particular their fusion and two-body reactions like nucleon transfer from one ion to the other. In the energy range under study, the reaction dynamics are strongly affected by the structure of the interacting nuclei, leading to complex and interesting phenomena. The experimental apparatus is installed in the Legnaro National Laboratories (LNL) and makes use of the particle accelerators Tandem-Alpi-Piave and SPES.   More info.
Local coordinator: Giovanna Montagnoli

SPES Selective Production of Exotic Species

The project aims at developing the instrumentation necessary for fundamental research in nuclear physics and astrophysics with beams of highly unstable nuclei as well as the creation of means and infrastructures for interdisciplinary applications. Among the possibilities is the realisation of a laboratory for the production of innovative radioisotopes for medical applications in radio diagnostic and therapy. It is also possible to create an intense neutron source for experiments in the fields of material sciences and energy.   More info.
Local coordinator: Marco Bellato