Measurements and computational analysis of the natural decay of Lu 176

F. G.A. Quarati, G. Bollen, P. Dorenbos, M. Eibach, K. Gulyuz, A. Hamaker, C. Izzo, D. K. Keblbeck, X. Mougeot, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Background: Mainly because of its long half-life and despite its scientific relevance, spectroscopic measurements of Lu176 forbidden β decays are very limited and lack formulation of shape factors. A direct precise measurement of its Q value is also presently unreported. In addition, the description of forbidden decays provides interesting challenges for nuclear theory. The comparison of precise experimental results with theoretical calculations for these decays can help to test underlying models and can aid the interpretation of data from other experiments. Purpose: Perform the first precision measurements of Lu176β-decay spectra and attempt the observation of its electron capture decays, as well as perform the first precision direct measurement of the Lu176β-decay Q value. Compare the shape of the precisely determined experimental β spectra to theoretical calculations, and compare the end point energy to that obtained from an independent Q value measurement. Method: The Lu176β-decay spectra measurements and the search for electron capture decays were performed with an experimental setup that employed lutetium-containing scintillator crystals and a NaI(Tl) spectrometer for coincidence counting. The β decay Q value was determined via high-precision Penning trap mass spectrometry (PTMS) with the LEBIT facility at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. The β-spectrum calculations were performed within the Fermi theory formalism with nuclear structure effects calculated using a shell model approach. Results: Both β transitions of Lu176 were experimentally observed and corresponding shape factors formulated in their entire energy ranges. The search for electron capture decay branches led to an experimental upper limit of 6.3×10-6 relative to its β decays. The Lu176β-decay and electron capture Q values were measured using PTMS to be 1193.0(6) and 108.9(8) keV, respectively. This enabled precise β end point energies of 596.2(6) and 195.3(6) keV to be determined for the primary and secondary β decays, respectively. The conserved vector current hypothesis was applied to calculate the relativistic vector matrix elements. The β-spectrum shape was shown to significantly depend on the Coulomb displacement energy and on the value of the axial vector coupling constant gA, which was extracted according to different assumptions. Conclusion: The implemented self-scintillation method has provided unmatched observations of Lu176, independently validated by the first direct measurements of its β-decay Q value by Penning trap mass spectrometry. Theoretical study of the main β transition led to the extraction of very different effective gA and log10f values, showing that a high-precision description of this transition would require a realistic nuclear structure with nucleus deformation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024313
Number of pages19
JournalPhysical Review C
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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