Coulomb excitation and nuclear deformation
Coulomb excitation is the most direct method to study nuclear collectivity and shapes. In the scattering of two nuclei, the electromagnetic field that acts between them causes their excitation. The process selectively populates low-lying collective states and is therefore ideally suited to study nuclear collectivity. If the distance of closest approach between the projectile and the target is sufficiently large, the short-range nuclear interaction can be neglected and the excitation process can be precisely described using the well-known electromagnetic interaction. In consequence, the measured cross sections to populate excited states in a Coulomb excitation experiment can be directly related to the static and dynamic moments of the charge distribution of the studied nucleus.