Theoretical research in nuclear physics

Professors Sean Gavin, Abhijit Majumder, Chun Shen

Over the last two decades, experiments at the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab. in New York and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland have provided conclusive evidence for the brief formation of a plasma of quarks and gluons in these experiments. At a temperature of two trillion Kelvin, the Quark-Gluon Plasma represents the hottest substance ever created in a laboratory and last existed up to a few microseconds after the Big Bang.

The Wayne State Nuclear Theory Group carries out cutting edge research in all aspects of high-energy heavy-ion collisions, from studies of the perfect fluid nature of the Quark-Gluon Plasma, its striking opacity to QCD jets, to the phase transition from Quark Matter back to conventional Nuclear Matter. The Wayne State group is also a world leader in applying high-performance computing to carry out dynamical simulations of the multi-scale evolution of nucleus-nucleus and proton-nucleus collisions.



Professor Sean Gavin

Correlation measurements and related fluctuation studies can reveal space-time information about particle production and dynamics not measured by single particle observables. Professor Gavin is working to develop theoretical tools for the analysis of correlations in a hydrodynamic context. Applications of this framework to transverse momentum fluctuation data provide an estimate of the shear viscosity. Extensions of the method proposed here can refine this estimate, while application to other observables can furnish
new information on thermal conductivity and other transport coefficients.

Experimental results in proton-proton and proton-nucleus collisions indicate unanticipated collective phenomena. Prof. Gavin is working on new theoretical tools and experimental methods are proposed to study the onset of collectivity in proton-proton and proton-nucleus collisions. This work is often driven by experimental data analyzed at Wayne State.

Professor Abhijit Majumder

Majumder is an expert on the quenching of QCD jets in dense matter. Jets start out as a single parton (quark or gluon) with an energy order of magnitude higher than any other parton in the surrounding medium. These then decay into a collimated collection of quarks and gluons that then burrow through the dense medium, being modified in the process. The study of these modified jets reveals the internal structure of the Quark-Gluon Plasma at high resolution. Professor Majumder has contributed to both the theoretical framework for the study of jet quenching, as well as the setup of numerical simulations of jets propagating through the plasma. He has worked on the calculation of jet transport coefficients within Lattice QCD and contributed extensively to the phenomenology of heavy-ion collisions.

Professor Majumder is the spokesperson of the JETSCAPE Collaboration: A multi-disciplinary collaboration between physicists, computer scientists, and statisticians that encompasses ten institutions and is focused on developing state-of-the-art simulation tools to both simulate and study the evolution of relativistic heavy-ion collisions.

Professor Chun Shen

Chun Shen's research is central in understanding strongly interacting many-body systems under extreme conditions. He is a world-leading expert in dynamical modeling of relativistic heavy-ion collisions with 3D fluid dynamics and electromagnetic tomography. He developed the first open-source computational framework which integrates and standardizes a multi-stage bulk evolution description of heavy-ion collisions at high energy. This framework has been adopted to extract the transport property of the QGP, namely shear, bulk viscosities, and charge diffusion constants. These transport coefficients elucidate the strongly-coupled nature of the QGP at extremely high temperature and density. His current research also significantly interfaces with high-performance computing and machine learning with big data. Professor Shen is a recipient of the Young Scientist Prize in nuclear physics from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) in 2019.

Postdoctoral fellows

  • Dr. Sangwook Ryu
  • Dr. Gojko Vujanovic
  • Dr. Wenbin Zhao

Graduate students

  • Ms. Sahr Alzhrani
  • Mr. Zoulfekar Mazloum
  • Mr. Chathuranga Sirimanna