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Nature. 2005 Feb 17;433(7027):705-9.

Shape coexistence and triaxiality in the superheavy nuclei.

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Institute of Physics, Warsaw University of Technology, ul. Koszykowa 75, PL-00662, Warsaw, Poland.


Superheavy nuclei represent the limit of nuclear mass and charge; they inhabit the remote corner of the nuclear landscape, whose extent is unknown. The discovery of new elements with atomic numbers Z > or = 110 has brought much excitement to the atomic and nuclear physics communities. The existence of such heavy nuclei hangs on a subtle balance between the attractive nuclear force and the disruptive Coulomb repulsion between protons that favours fission. Here we model the interplay between these forces using self-consistent energy density functional theory; our approach accounts for spontaneous breaking of spherical symmetry through the nuclear Jahn-Teller effect. We predict that the long-lived superheavy elements can exist in a variety of shapes, including spherical, axial and triaxial configurations. In some cases, we anticipate the existence of metastable states and shape isomers that can affect decay properties and hence nuclear half-lives.


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