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The Experimental Nuclear Physics Research Group at Old Dominion University has been awarded a $1.6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to continue its research involving subatomic particles.

The three-year grant was announced in mid-February and is 15 percent larger than the group's previous grant, a remarkable achievement in times when most researchers find their budgets being cut, said Colm Whelan, chair of the physics department since July.

The renewal recognizes the group's construction and use of state-of-the-art detection equipment for the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News and for leading many of the international scientific collaborations doing research there.

"This is a terrific tribute to our quality faculty in nuclear physics and to Colm's leadership," said Thomas Isenhour, dean of the College of Sciences.

The group's ongoing study, titled "From Quarks to Nuclei," probes the "strong force" which binds quarks to form protons and neutrons and holds them together in atomic nuclei.

The Old Dominion group works primarily at Jefferson Lab, using electrons traveling at almost the speed of light as a microscope to study quantum quark waves inside the nucleus at a resolution 1 million times finer than the size of the atom. As the quark and associated gluon waves are responsible for nearly all the visible matter and energy in the universe, such information is of vital importance to science, said Larry Weinstein, principal investigator of the project and an associate professor of physics.

"They're going deep into the heart of matter," Whelan said.

The Experimental Nuclear Physics Group is led by Weinstein and co-principal investigators Gail Dodge, Charles Hyde-Wright, Andi Klein, Sebastian Kuhn and Paul Ulmer, all physics faculty members.

The grant also supports graduate researchers, and provides cutting-edge research opportunities for undergraduates.

This article was posted on: March 1, 2002

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