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

Matthew Mumpower

Postdoctoral Research Fellow @ 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. My research interests are in nuclear and particle astrophysics. I currently study the interplay between nuclear physics and astrophysical environments in the rapid neutron capture or $r$-process nucleosynthesis.

Nucleosynthesis is the study of the processes by which chemical elements are synthesized in cosmic environments. Another way to say this is that I focus 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 (February 1st 2017)

Reverse engineering nuclear properties from rare earth abundances in the $r$ process

The bulk of the rare earth elements are believed to be synthesized in the rapid neutron capture process or $r$ process of nucleosynthesis. The solar $r$-process residuals show a small peak in the rare earths around $A\sim 160$, which is proposed to be formed dynamically during the end phase of the $r$ process by a pileup of material....

Select Papers

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...

Sensitivity studies for a weak $r$ process: neutron capture rates

R. Surman, M. Mumpower, R. Sinclair, K. Jones, W. Hix, G. C. McLaughlin
AIP Advances 4, 041008 - Published February 23rd 2014
Rapid neutron capture nucleosynthesis involves thousands of nuclear species far from stability, whose nuclear properties need to be understood in order to accurately predict nucleosynthetic outcomes. Recently sensitivity studies have provided a deeper understanding into how the $r$ process proceeds and have identified pieces of nuclear data of interest recommended for further experimental or theoretical study. A key result of these studies has been to point out the importance of individual neutron capture rates in setting the final $r$-process abundance pattern for a 'main' ($A\sim 130$ peak and above) $r$ process. Here we examine neutron capture in the context of a 'weak' $r$ process that forms primarily the $A\sim 80$ $r$-process abundance peak. We identify the astrophysical conditions required to produce this peak region through weak $r$-processing and point out the neutron capture rates that most strongly influence the final abundance...


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.