$\frac{E_{bind}}{c^2}=a_1A-a_2A^{2/3}-a_3\frac{Z(Z-1)}{A^{1/3}}-a_4\frac{(N-Z)^2}{A}+\epsilon a_5A^{-3/4}$

Matthew Mumpower

Staff Scientist @ Los Alamos National Lab

About Me

I'm a theoretical physicist working at Los Alamos National Lab. I received my PhD at North Carolina State University under the direction of Gail McLaughlin. At the University of Notre Dame I worked under the direction of Ani Aprahamian and Rebecca Surman. My research interests are in nuclear structure and reaction mechanisms. The study of these models has a wide range of applicability from nuclear medicine, to stockpile stewardship and even the cosmos.

At Los Alamos we seek to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence. This means we not only apply our models to the task at hand, but we seek to push them to the limits by probing the edges of our knowledge with basic science research. One way I contribute to basic science research at the lab is to study the applicability of LANL nuclear models to nucleosynthesis. Nucleosynthesis is the study of the processes by which chemical elements are synthesized in cosmic environments. In other words, this part of my research focuses on how the elements on the periodic table were created. This field is extremely challenging and also very rewarding with many real world applications. Check out the research section of this website for more information.

I firmly believe that practicing in scientific inquiry is both empowering and a necessary requirement for success in today's world. You can learn more about my teaching efforts in the teach section of this website.

Outside of Physics I enjoy keeping up with latest technology trends and coming up with unique solutions to challenging problems. For more about my entrepreneurial endeavours check out Solace Development Group. In my free time I try to stay in shape by playing racquetball. If you are interested in a game, shoot me an e-mail.

Latest Paper (October 17th 2017)

The Origin of r-Process Elements in the Milky Way

Some of the heavy elements, such as gold and europium (Eu), are almost exclusively formed by the rapid neutron capture process (r-process). However, it is still unclear which astrophysical site between core-collapse supernovae and neutron star - neutron star (NS-NS) mergers produced most of the r-process elements in the universe. Galactic chemical evolution (GCE) models can test...

Select Papers

Neutron-capture rates for explosive nucleosynthesis: the case of $^{68}$Ni$(n,\gamma)^{69}$Ni

A. Spyrou et al.
J. Phys. G 44 4 044002 - Published February 23rd 2017
Neutron-capture reactions play an important role in heavy element nucleosynthesis, since they are the driving force for the two processes that create the vast majority of the heavy elements. When a neutron capture occurs on a short-lived nucleus, it is extremely challenging to study the reaction directly and therefore the use of indirect techniques is essential. The present work reports on such an indirect measurement that provides strong constraints on the $^{68}$Ni(n,$\gamma$)$^{69}$Ni reaction rate. This is done by populating the compound nucleus $^{69}$Ni via the $\beta$ decay of $^{69}$Co and measuring the $\gamma$-ray deexcitation of excited states in $^{69}$Ni. The $\beta$-Oslo method was used to extract the $\gamma$-ray strength function and the nuclear level density. In addition the half-life of $^{69}$Co was extracted and found to be in agreement with previous literature values. Before the present results, the $^{68}$Ni(n,$\gamma$)$^{69}$Ni reaction was unconstrained and the purely theoretical reaction rate was highly uncertain. The new uncertainty on the reaction rate based on the present experiment (variation between upper and lower limit) is approximately a factor of 3. The commonly used reaction libraries...

The impact of individual nuclear properties on $r$-process nucleosynthesis

M. Mumpower, R. Surman, G. C. McLaughlin, A. Aprahamian
PPNP 86 86-126 - Published February 21st 2016
The astrophysical rapid neutron capture process or '$r$ process' of nucleosynthesis is believed to be responsible for the production of approximately half the heavy element abundances found in nature. This multifaceted problem remains one of the greatest open challenges in all of physics. Knowledge of nuclear physics properties such as masses, $\beta$-decay and neutron capture rates, as well as $\beta$-delayed neutron emission probabilities are critical inputs that go into calculations of $r$-process nucleosynthesis. While properties of nuclei near stability have been established, much still remains unknown regarding neutron-rich nuclei far from stability that may participate in the $r$ process. Sensitivity studies gauge the astrophysical response of a change in nuclear physics input(s) which allows for the isolation of the most important nuclear properties that shape the final abundances observed in nature. This review summarizes the extent of recent sensitivity studies and highlights how these studies play a key role in facilitating new insight into the $r$ process. The development of these tools promotes a focused effort for state-of-the-art measurements, motivates construction of new facilities and will ultimately move the community towards addressing the grand challenge of 'How were the elements from iron...


In my free time I play competitive racquetball. I was one of the top ranked players of the North Carolina State University Racquetball Club from 2008 to 2012. I designed their website which you can find an image of right here.