Charge radii of exotic potassium isotopes challenge nuclear theory and the magic character of N = 32

Research output: Working paper

  • External authors:
  • Cory Binnersley
  • Mark Bissell
  • Bernard Cooper
  • Christopher Ricketts
  • Adam Vernon
  • et al.


Nuclear charge radii are sensitive probes of different aspects of the nucleon-nucleon interaction and the bulk properties of nuclear matter, providing a stringent test and challenge for nuclear theory. Experimental evidence suggested a new magic neutron number at N = 321–3 in the calcium region, while the unexpectedly large increases in the charge radii4,5 open new questions about the evolution of nuclear size in neutron-rich systems. By combining the collinear resonance ionization spectroscopy method with -decay detection, we were able to extend charge radii measurements of potassium isotopes beyond N = 32. Our work provides the first charge radius measurement of 52K. It does not show a signature of magic behaviour at N = 32 in potassium. The results are interpreted with two state-of-the-art nuclear theories. The coupled cluster theory reproduces the odd-even variations in charge radii but not the notable increase beyond N = 28. This rise is well captured by Fayans nuclear density functional theory, which, however, overestimates the odd-even staggering effect in charge radii. These findings highlight our limited understanding on the nuclear size of neutron-rich systems, and expose problems that are present in some of the best current models of nuclear theory.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
PublisherSpringer Nature
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameNature Physics
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN (Print)1745-2473
ISSN (Electronic)1745-2481

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