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Momentum sharing in imbalanced Fermi systems

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Science  31 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 614-617
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256785

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Scattering electrons off nuclear targets

Atomic nuclei consist of fermions—protons and neutrons—bound together by interactions. Because two identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state, both protons and neutrons have a broad range of momenta inside the nucleus. Hen et al. scattered electrons off nuclei of varying sizes to study the distribution of the protons' and neutrons' momenta. Protons formed high-momentum pairs with neutrons much more frequently than with other protons. Thus, surprisingly, the average momentum of a neutron was lower than that of a proton, even in nuclei with a larger number of neutrons than protons.

Science, this issue p. 614

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