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Dan Watts


  • Chair in Hadron and Nuclear Physics, Physics
Former affiliation

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Research interests

Prof Watts' research exploits intense beams of electrons or high energy photons to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of strongly interacting matter. The experiments are carried out at overseas laboratories such as the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory (JLab) in the USA and the Mainz Microtron (MAMI) in Germany. Detector equipment needed to realise the science aims built in house. The development of state-of-the-art detector apparatus and simulation methods enables associated research programmes in medical physics (e.g. PET imaging, radiotherapy).

Precision measurements on nuclei characterise the size and shape of the neutron skin, which constrains the equation of state for neutron rich matter. This impacts our understanding of compact astrophysical objects such as neutron stars.  Work to establish the properties of emerging multiquark systems, such as the d* hexaquark, also impact our understanding of neutron stars as well as furthering our understanding of the strong force (Quantum CHromo Dynamics) in non-perturbative regimes. Research aiming to elucidate the excitation spectrum of the nucleon, also challenges whether Quantum Chromo Dynamics can fully describe pheneomena at the distance scales appropriate to the atomic nucleus. Research using mesons (bound systems of two quarks) offers further insight into the quark confinement process. Prof Watts is a spokeseperson on a major new "MesonEx" experiment at JLab to hunt for exotic hybrid mesons which will give new constraints on our understanding of the quark confinement process and mass generation mechanisms. 


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