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Dr Robin Smith

Senior Lecturer in Physics


Summary

Robin Smith joined SHU as a physics lecturer in August 2017 after completing his PhD in nuclear physics at the University of Birmingham. He specialises in experimental measurements of nuclear reactions, relevant to nuclear structure and nuclear astrophysics, examining the shapes of atomic nuclei and determining the rates of fusion reactions in stars. Robin is also leading projects in radiation detector development, which are to be used in the energy sector for nuclear data measurements and also for nuclear security.

Robin has authored a number of peer-reviewed publications in both theoretical and experimental nuclear physics. His publication on the Structure of the carbon-12 Hoyle state in 2017 was featured in Physics World magazine and APS Physics Viewpoint. The experiment itself appeared in the BBC television show, The Beginning and the End of the Universe, episode 2.



About

Responsibilities

Professional Memberships

  • Member of the Institute of Physics
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Awards

2019 - Few-Body Physics Young Researcher Award 


Specialist areas of interest

  • Radiation detection
  • Nuclear reactions
  • Nuclear structure (alpha clustering)
  • Nuclear data
  • Neutron spectrum unfolding

Teaching

Department of Engineering and Mathematics

Business, Technology and Enterprise

Subject areas

Physics and Engineering Mathematics
Mathematics

Courses

Physics
Mathematics

Modules

  • Module leader: Atomic and Nuclear Physics. Level 4 Physics
  • Academic lead: Physics laboratory. The Professional and Practical Physicist 2. Level 5 Physics
  • Lecturer: Electromagnetism. Mechanics, Relativity and Electromagnetism. Level 5 Physics
  • Lecturer: Exploring the Universe. Explorations in mathematics. Level 4 Mathematics
  • Supervisor: Physics project. Level 6 physics
  • Tutor: Engineering Mathematics/ Applied Engineering Mathematics. Level 4 Engineering
  • Academic advisor. Level 4–6 Physics

Research

Studies in Low-Energy Nuclear Physics – US Department of Energy. Collaborators; University of Connecticut; University of Warsaw (2019 -2012).

The goal of this project is to use a gas-filled Time Projection Chamber (TPC) to measure the 12C(a,g)16O reaction; a crucial stage in stellar nucleosynthesis and key to understanding the evolution of stars. Experimental measurements are performed at the HIgS facility at Duke University in the USA.

ENFUSE: Effective Neutron Spectrometry for FUSion Environments. Funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority UKAEA and a SHU collaborative studentship.

In collaboration with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, a PhD student is working on machine learning algorithm development to improve the ways neutron spectra are measured in fusion environments.

Measuring the 16O(n,α)13C reaction using the Texas Active Target Detector (TexAT)UK Nuclear Data Network (UKNDN) funded by STFC. Collaborators; University of Birmingham.

The goal of this project is to use the Texas Active Target detector (TexAT) to measure the 16O(n,a)13C reaction; a crucial reaction in understanding neutron multiplication in nuclear reactors. The reverse reaction is also a key neutron source for the astrophysical s-process. Experimental measurements will be performed at the Edwards Accelerator Laboratory at Ohio University in the USA.

NESSY: a Neutron Energy Spectrometer for SecuritY – Nuclear Security Science Network (NuSec) funded by STFC. Collaborators; University of Birmingham.

This project aims to build a high-sensitivity neutron detector with unrivalled neutron/gamma discrimination properties. The detector will have applications in nuclear security and nuclear astrophysics. It is being tested in laboratories at SHU.


Publications

Journal articles

Pirrie, S., Wheldon, C., Kokalova, T., Bishop, J., Faestermann, T., Hertenberger, R., ... Turner, A. (2021). Precision branching-ratio measurements in 18 O. The European Physical Journal A, 57 (4). http://doi.org/10.1140/epja/s10050-021-00431-w

Bailey, S., Kokalova, T., Freer, M., Wheldon, C., Smith, R., Walshe, J., ... Jacquot, B. (2021). The identification of α -clustered doorway states in 44, 48, 52 Ti using machine learning. The European Physical Journal A, 57 (3). http://doi.org/10.1140/epja/s10050-021-00357-3

Pirrie, S., Wheldon, C., Kokalova, T.Z., Bishop, J., Faestermann, T.H., Hertenberger, R., ... Turner, A. (2020). Search for evidence of rotational cluster bands in O18. Physical Review C, 102 (6). http://doi.org/10.1103/physrevc.102.064315

Pereira-López, X., Fernández-Domínguez, B., Delaunay, F., Achouri, N.L., Orr, N.A., Catford, W.N., ... Wheldon, C. (2020). Low-lying single-particle structure of 17C and the N = 14 sub-shell closure. Physics Letters B, 811 (135939), 135939. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.physletb.2020.135939

Smith, R., Bishop, J., Hirst, J., Kokalova, T., & Wheldon, C. (2020). The Hoyle Family: The search for alpha-condensate states in light nuclei. Few-Body Systems, 61, 14. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00601-020-1545-5

Smith, R., Gai, M., Ahmed, M., Freer, M., Fynbo, H., Schweitzer, D., & Stern, S. (2020). Stringent upper limit on the direct 3α decay of the Hoyle state in 12C. Physical Review C: Nuclear Physics, 101, 021302(R). http://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevC.101.021302

Smith, R., & Bishop, J. (2019). A Fast Universal Kinematic Fitting Code for Low-Energy Nuclear Physics: FUNKI_FIT. Physics, 1 (3), 375-391. http://doi.org/10.3390/physics1030027

Bailey, S., Kokalova, T., Freer, M., Wheldon, C., Smith, R., Walshe, J., ... Soylu, A. (2019). Extracting the spectral signature of alpha-clustering in 44,48,52Ti using the continuous wavelet transform. Physical Review C - Nuclear Physics, 100 (051302). http://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevC.100.051302

Smith, R., Bishop, J., Kokalova, T., & Wheldon, C. (2019). Theoretical approaches to the 3α break-up of 12C. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 012021.

Bishop, J., Kokalova, T., Freer, M., Acosta, L., Assié, M., Bailey, S., ... Wheldon, C. (2019). Experimental investigation of α condensation in light nuclei. Physical Review C, 100 (3). http://doi.org/10.1103/physrevc.100.034320

Smith, R., Bishop, J., Wheldon, C., & Kokalova, T. (2019). Theoretical approaches to the 3α break-up of 12C. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1308 (1), 012021. http://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1308/1/012021

Gai, M., Schweitzer, D., Stern, S.R., Young, A.H., Smith, R., Cwiok, M., ... Freer, M. (2019). Time Projection Chamber (TPC) detectors for nuclear astrophysics studies with gamma beams. Nuclear instruments and methods in physics research: Section A: Accelerators, spectrometers, detectors and associated equipment. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2019.01.006

Smith, R., Bishop, J., Kokalova, T., Wheldon, C., Freer, M., Curtis, N., ... Parker, D.J. (2018). Optimising resistive charge-division strip detectors for low energy charged-particle spectroscopy. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A Accelerators Spectrometers Detectors and Associated Equipment, 901, 14-20. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2018.05.052

Smith, R., Kokalova, T., Wheldon, C., Bishop, J.E., Freer, M., Curtis, N., & Parker, D.J. (2017). New Measurement of the Direct 3α Decay from the 12C Hoyle State. Physical Review Letters, 119, 132502. http://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.132502

Bishop, J., Kokalova, T., Freer, M., Assie, M., Acosta, L., Bailey, S., ... Wheldon, C. (2017). High multiplicity α-particle breakup measurements to study α-condensate states. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 863 (1), 012070. http://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/863/1/012070

Smith, R., Freer, M., Wheldon, C., Curtis, N., Almaraz-Calderon, S., Aprahamian, A., ... Ziman, V.A. (2017). Disentangling unclear nuclear breakup channels of beryllium-9 using the three-axis Dalitz plot. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 863 (1), 012032. http://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/863/1/012032

Tokic, V., Soic, N., Blagus, S., Fazinic, S., Jelavic-Malenica, D., Mijatovic, T., ... Fioretto, E. (2017). Structure of 24Mg excited states and their influence on nucleosynthesis. Acta Physica Polonica B, 48 (3), 319-324. http://doi.org/10.5506/APhysPolB.48.319

Smith, R., Wheldon, C., Freer, M., Curtis, N., Kokalova, T., Almaraz-Calderon, S., ... Ziman, V.A. (2016). Evidence for a 3.8 MeV state in 9Be. Physical Review C (PRC), 94, 014320. http://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevC.94.014320

Bailey, S., Freer, M., Kokalova, T., Wheldon, C., Smith, R., Walshe, J., ... Jacquot, B. (2016). Alpha clustering in Ti isotopes: 40, 44, 48Ca+ α resonant scattering. EPJ Web of Conferences, 113, 08002. http://doi.org/10.1051/epjconf/201611308002

Caprio, M.A., Maris, P., Vary, J.P., & Smith, R. (2015). Emergence of rotational collectivity in Ab Initio no-Core configuration interaction calculations. Romanian Journal of Physics, 60 (5-6), 646-647. http://www.nipne.ro/rjp/2015_60_5-6.html

Caprio, M.A., Maris, P., Vary, J.P., & Smith, R. (2015). Collective rotation from ab initio theory. International Journal of Modern Physics E, 24 (09), 1541002. http://doi.org/10.1142/S0218301315410025

Smith, R., Gai, M., Stern, S., Schweitzer, D., & Ahmed, M. (n.d.). Precision measurements on oxygen formation in stellar helium burning with gamma-ray beams and a Time Projection Chamber. . http://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-291379/v1

Conference papers

Smith, R., Bishop, J., Hirst, J., Kokalova, T., & Wheldon, C. (2020). The Hoyle Family: break-up measurements to probe α-condensation in light nuclei. SciPost Physics Proceedings, 3 (030). http://doi.org/10.21468/SciPostPhysProc.3.030

Pirrie, S., Wheldon, C., Kokalova, T., Bishop, J., Hertenberger, R., Wirth, H.-.F., ... Turner, A. (2020). Clustering in 18O - absolute determination of branching ratios via high-resolution particle spectroscopy. SciPost Physics Proceedings, 3 (009). http://doi.org/10.21468/SciPostPhysProc.3.009

Bishop, J., Smith, R., Kokalova, T., Wheldon, C., Curtis, N., Freer, M., & Parker, D. (2018). An improved upper limit on the direct 3α decay of the Hoyle state. In 6th International Conference on Production, Energy and Reliability 2018: World Engineering Science & Technology Congress (ESTCON), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 13 August 2018 - 15 August 2018 (pp. 020035). AIP Publishing: http://doi.org/10.1063/1.5078854

Pirrie, S., Kokalova, T., Wheldon, C., Bailey, S., Bishop, J., Curtis, N., ... Dell’Aquila, D. (2018). A method to determine γ branching ratios using charged particle detectors for states in 18O. In Pedapati, S.R., Soon, W.P.K., Nasif, M.S., Ya, H., Sulaiman, S.A.B., & Mamat, O.B. (Eds.) 6TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PRODUCTION, ENERGY AND RELIABILITY 2018: World Engineering Science & Technology Congress (ESTCON). AIP: http://doi.org/10.1063/1.5078856

Book chapters

Smith, R., Freer, M., Wheldon, C., Curtis, N., Almaraz-Calderon, S., Aprahamian, A., ... Ziman, V.A. (2015). Breakup branches of Borromean beryllium-9. In Lipoglavsek, M., Milin, M., Niksic, T., Szilner, S., & Vretenar, D. (Eds.) Nuclear Structure and Dynamics '15. (pp. 060003). AIP Publishing: http://doi.org/10.1063/1.4932289

Postgraduate supervision

  • February 2019 – present: Raed Dallal – Neutron-induced nuclear reactions and neutron detector development 
  • October 2019 – present: Ocean Wong – ENFUSE: Effective Neutron Spectrometry for FUSion Environments 

Media

Robin engages with media outlets to improve the public understanding of science and the value of fundamental physics research.

Robin and colleagues performing an experiment on the structure of the carbon-12 Hoyle state, at the University of Birmingham, appeared in the BBC television show, The Beginning and the End of the Universe, episode 2.

Robin’s lead-author publication on the structure of the carbon-12 Hoyle state in 2017 was featured in Physics World magazine and APS Physics Viewpoint.

Radio interview with Global media company to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings. Interviews featured on Heart Yorkshire and Capital Yorkshire 16th July 2019.

In January 2020, Robin recorded a "Finding Genius" podcast, entitled "A foray into nuclear physics"

In November 2020, Robin gave a talk at TEDx Aberystwyth, entitled "Nuclear data on earth and in the cosmos". Robin's talk begins at 2:53:40 in the live stream recording


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