Home Understanding nuclear physics: Accelerators and non-accelerator techniques

    Understanding nuclear physics: Accelerators and non-accelerator techniques

    The Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory studies complex problems in physics through the synergistic use of accelerators and non-accelerator techniques.

    Nuclei are fundamental constituents of visible matter and complex systems where all of the forces of nature are in operation. Studies of nuclei can therefore provide insight into many of the open questions in our understanding of the universe. Our research programme at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory (TUNL) addresses a wide variety of these questions by conducting studies in:

    • Proton and neutron structures
    • Forces between nucleons and their relationship with nuclear structure
    • Nuclear processes within stars
    • The creation of elements in stars
    • Symmetries in nature
    • The properties of neutrinos
    • Accelerator and non-accelerator nuclear research techniques

    What allows us to address these problems is a unique combination of local and off-site research facilities. TUNL hosts three accelerator laboratories, two of which have unique capabilities: The High Intensity Gamma-ray Source (HIγS) and the Laboratory for Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics (LENA). HIγS produces γ rays by scattering light from a free-electron laser (FEL) with a beam of electrons, producing a tunable beam with the highest flux in the world. The LENA accelerators produce the world’s most intense low-energy proton beams for measuring nuclear reactions that occur in the hearts of stars. Other TUNL projects take place in remote locations, deep underground to shield detectors from cosmic rays, or at a variety of laboratories in the US and Europe.

    We are a consortium of researchers and students from four universities, Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Together, we educate about 8% of all PhDs in experimental nuclear physics in the US. They are probably our most important contribution to society.


    Arthur E Champagne’s interests lie in the area of experimental nuclear astrophysics. He is the Class of 1989 WC Friday Professor of Physics at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Director of TUNL. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a recent recipient of the Jesse W Beams award from the Southeast Section of the American Physical Society.


    • Nuclear Physics
    • Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics
    • Accelerator Physics
    • Detector and Instrumentation Technology
    • Data Acquisition


    • Low Energy Quantum Chromodynamics
    • Nuclear Structure and Reactions
    • Nuclear Astrophysics
    • Neutrinos and Fundamental Symmetries
    • Beam Physics