Australian National University
Research Field: Nuclear Physics
Nuclear collisions provide a testing ground for fundamental quantum mechanics, with applications in astrophysics, nuclear fusion, new element discovery, and particle beam cancer therapy. Dr Simpson’s research is focussed on the theory and modelling of nuclear collisions, and in understanding how the internal structure of nuclei influences nuclear reaction outcomes. One example is nuclear fusion.
Fusion is one of the most important quantum mechanical phenomenon in the universe – it powers the stars, made the elements we see around us, and is even exploited on Earth to make new elements. His research aims to understand the quantum mechanical effects that influence fusion and can enhance fusion probabilities at low energies by a factor of 1000. He also studies high energy nuclear collisions, with particles travelling at up to 80% of the speed of light. Here, his theoretical models allow us to predict the energy and angle distributions of specific reaction products, giving us a probe of nuclear structure characteristics.
This research has led to numerous experiments at international laboratories to study the nature of very exotic, short-lived isotopes. Dr Simpson is now applying these reaction models to improve our understanding of and dose distributions in particle-beam therapy.