From Michigan State University (US) and University of Surrey (UK): “University of Surrey and FRIB researchers explore origin of aluminum-26”

Michigan State Bloc

From Michigan State University (US)


University of Surrey (UK)

Scientists from the University of Surrey and the FRIB Laboratory at MSU teamed up to explore the origin of aluminum-26, a rare isotope that offers a window into dying stars.

Their findings, were published in Physical Review Letters.

Aluminum-26 provides rare insight into processes in stars. It decays into magnesium-26, which emits a characteristic gamma ray observable with satellites.

The illustration shows an aluminum-26 nucleus (green) escaping a supernova explosion. It will subsequently decay via gamma-ray emission that can be observed by satellites. Credit: Erin O’Donnell, FRIB.

Magnesium-26 is detectable in presolar grains of material from stars that existed before the sun. The composition of these grains carries the fingerprints of their parent stars. The destruction rate of aluminum-26 by capturing a proton is critical for interpreting the amount of magnesium-26 observed in the universe. This research showed that the destruction of aluminum-26 by proton capture on the long-lived state is eight times less frequent than previously estimated.

Gavin Lotay, senior lecturer and director of learning and teaching at the University of Surrey, was the project’s spokesperson. Alexandra Gade, professor of physics at FRIB [Facility for Rare Isotope Beams] and in MSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and FRIB deputy scientific director, led part of the MSU collaboration.

Aluminum-26 has a long-lived quantum state that is difficult to study in a controlled way in the laboratory. The team used a transfer reaction that added a neutron to the radioactive isotope silicon-26 to study excited quantum states in silicon-27. These are the same states that are populated in the proton capture on the long-lived quantum state of aluminum-26. This was possible because protons and neutrons are subject to a symmetry that makes adding a proton to the long-lived state in aluminum-26 equivalent to adding a neutron to the ground state of silicon-26. The measurement used the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking In-beam Nuclear Array (GRETINA), a national resource, and the laboratory’s S800 Spectrograph.

This research stems from a longstanding collaboration between the FRIB Laboratory and the University of Surrey, where direct nuclear reactions are used to populate quantum states whose exact energies and properties are of relevance to reactions that happen in stars. The staple of the collaboration has been the use of very sensitive gamma-ray spectroscopy to tag and characterize the excited quantum states of interest. Lotay eagerly anticipates the start of science at FRIB to further his research. He has submitted three proposals for beam time at FRIB that will be considered by the first FRIB Program Advisory Committee later this summer.

“We have now reached a truly exciting time in science, where we are able to directly probe the processes that occur in exploding stars,” said Lotay. “These celestial objects are responsible for the rich variety of chemical elements we find all around us and, by coupling gamma-ray spectroscopy with direct reaction techniques, the collaboration has been successful in obtaining key information needed to understand their properties. The collaboration is now poised to significantly expand the scope of its nuclear astrophysics program and capitalize on the vast swathe of opportunities available at the soon-to-open FRIB facility.”

This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Office of Nuclear Physics; the National Science Foundation; and the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration through the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council of the United Kingdom.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently highlighted the research on its website.

Michigan State University establishes and operates FRIB as a user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy (US) Office of Science.

NSCL is a national user facility funded by the National Science Foundation (US), supporting the mission of the Nuclear Physics program in the NSF Physics Division.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

See the full article here .


Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

About the University of Surrey (UK)

The University of Surrey is a public research university in Guildford, Surrey, England. The university received its royal charter in 1966, along with a number of other institutions following recommendations in the Robbins Report. The institution was previously known as Battersea College of Technology and was located in Battersea Park, London. Its roots however, go back to Battersea Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1891 to provide further and higher education in London, including its poorer inhabitants. The university’s research output and global partnerships have led to it being regarded as one of the UK’s leading research universities.

The university is a member of the Association of MBAs and is one of four universities in the University Global Partnership Network. It is also part of the SETsquared partnership (UK) along with The University of Bath (UK), The University of Bristol (UK), the University of Southampton (UK) and The University of Exeter (UK). The university’s main campus is on Stag Hill, close to the centre of Guildford and adjacent to Guildford Cathedral. Surrey Sports Park is situated at the nearby Manor Park, the university’s secondary campus. Among British universities, the University of Surrey had the 14th highest average UCAS Tariff for new entrants in 2015.

A major centre for satellite and mobile communications research, the university is in partnership with King’s College London (UK) and the Dresden University of Technology [Technische Universität Dresden] (DE) to develop 5G technology worldwide. It also holds a number of formal links with institutions worldwide, including the Surrey International Institute (UK), launched in partnership with the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics [东北财经大学](DUFE) (CN). The university owns the Surrey Research Park, providing facilities for over 110 companies engaged in research. Surrey has been awarded three Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for its research, with the 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranking 78% of the university’s research outputs as “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. It was named as The Sunday Times University of the Year in 2016.

Current and emeritus academics at the university include ten Fellows of the Royal Society, twenty-one Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, one Fellow of the British Academy and six Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences. Surrey has educated many notable alumni, including Olympic gold medallists, several senior politicians, as well as a number of notable persons in various fields including the arts, sports and academia. Graduates typically abbreviate the University of Surrey to Sur when using post-nominal letters after their degree.


The university conducts extensive research on small satellites, with its Surrey Space Centre and spin-off commercial company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. In the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, the University of Surrey received a 5* rating in the categories of “Sociology”, “Other Studies and Professions Allied to Medicine”, and “Electrical and Electronic Engineering” and a 5* rating in the categories of “Psychology”, “Physics”, “Applied Mathematics”, “Statistics and Operational Research”, “European Studies” and “Russian, Slavonic and East European Languages”.

The 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey opened in September 2015, for the purpose of research for the development of the first worldwide 5G network. It has gained over £40m support from international telecommunications companies including Aeroflex, MYCOM OSI, BBC, BT Group, EE (telecommunications company), Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, Huawei, Ofcom, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone – and a further £11.6m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

In addition, the Surrey Research Park is a 28 ha (69-acre) low density development which is owned and developed by the university, providing large landscaped areas with water features and facilities for over 110 companies engaged in a broad spectrum of research, development and design activities. The university generates the third highest endowment income out of all UK universities “reflecting its commercially-orientated heritage.”

Michigan State Campus

Michigan State University (US) is a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan, United States. Michigan State University (US) was founded in 1855 and became the nation’s first land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862, serving as a model for future land-grant universities.

The university was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, one of the country’s first institutions of higher education to teach scientific agriculture. After the introduction of the Morrill Act, the college became coeducational and expanded its curriculum beyond agriculture. Today, Michigan State University (US) is one of the largest universities in the United States (in terms of enrollment) and has approximately 634,300 living alumni worldwide.

U.S. News & World Report ranks its graduate programs the best in the U.S. in elementary teacher’s education, secondary teacher’s education, industrial and organizational psychology, rehabilitation counseling, African history (tied), supply chain logistics and nuclear physics in 2019. Michigan State University (US) pioneered the studies of packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, and communication sciences. Michigan State University (US) is a member of the Association of American Universities and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The university’s campus houses the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the Abrams Planetarium, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and the country’s largest residence hall system.


The university has a long history of academic research and innovation. In 1877, botany professor William J. Beal performed the first documented genetic crosses to produce hybrid corn, which led to increased yields. Michigan State University (US) dairy professor G. Malcolm Trout improved the process for the homogenization of milk in the 1930s, making it more commercially viable. In the 1960s, Michigan State University (US) scientists developed cisplatin, a leading cancer fighting drug, and followed that work with the derivative, carboplatin. Albert Fert, an Adjunct professor at MSU, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg.

Today Michigan State University (US) continues its research with facilities such as the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Michigan State University (US)- Department of Energy(US) Plant Research Laboratory and a particle accelerator called the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science named Michigan State University as the site for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). The $730 million facility will attract top researchers from around the world to conduct experiments in basic nuclear science, astrophysics, and applications of isotopes to other fields.

In 2004, scientists at the Cyclotron produced and observed a new isotope of the element germanium, called Ge-60 In that same year, Michigan State University (US), in consortium with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (US) and the government of Brazil, broke ground on the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope (SOAR) in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

The consortium telescope will allow the Physics & Astronomy department to study galaxy formation and origins. Since 1999, MSU has been part of a consortium called the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, which aims to develop biotechnology research in the State of Michigan. Finally, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Quello Center researches issues of information and communication management.

The Michigan State University (US) Spartans compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. Michigan State Spartans football won the Rose Bowl Game in 1954, 1956, 1988 and 2014, and the university claims a total of six national football championships. Spartans men’s basketball won the NCAA National Championship in 1979 and 2000 and has attained the Final Four eight times since the 1998–1999 season. Spartans ice hockey won NCAA national titles in 1966, 1986 and 2007. The women’s cross country team was named Big Ten champions in 2019.[12] In the fall of 2019, MSU student-athletes posted all-time highs for graduation success rates and federal graduation rates, according to NCAA statistics.