Welcome to my homepage!
My name is Wouter; I am a researcher of the F.R.S.-FNRS and work at the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics which is part of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) . I study atomic nuclei, the tiny systems composed of protons and neutrons at the heart of molecules. There are multiple thousands of different nuclei, a number large enough that people generally talk about the chart of nuclei which is depicted above. This chart truly represents a zoo of different behaviors: adding or subtracting just one single proton or neutron can drastically alter many properties of the nucleus, from its size to how it reacts with other nuclei.
A few nuclei are stable and occur naturally on earth (though some are much rarer than others). The others are all radioactive, i.e. they exist only for a certain amount of time before turning through a variety of channels into stable nuclei. On earth, we can synthesise these radioactive elements in accelerators, and scientists have so far created about 2500 exotic nuclei. There are however good reasons to think that several thousands more can exist, a vast region of intriguing systems about which we know little to nothing! Aside from the intrinsic interest of exploration, the properties of the nuclei in this unknown region of the chart are also relevant to astrophysics: extreme environments such as supernovae or star collisions create conditions in which exotic nuclei unknown on earth can be created. If we want to study these astrophysical phenomena, we have to start from a thorough understanding of nuclear structure.
I try to model the structure of the thousands nuclei in the chart, known and unknown, all within a single framework. This is a very challenging task, as we do not have a closed expression for the interaction between nucleons and even if we had, the relevant equations would be impossible to solve! So, what I do is build simplified models that try to incorporate as much as possible of nuclear physics, while keeping the equations sufficiently tractable (for supercomputers, not puny humans) for application to thousands of nuclei. This website functions as a bit of archive: it contains a list of my publications, the slides of all my presentations since 2017 and some documentation on the computer tools I've written. You can read a bit more about my research interests and me as a person on the about-page and find a complete Curriculum Vitae .
- 22/11/2023 - I presented the BSkG models at an ESNT workshop in Saclay (FR). Slides can be found on the publications page.
- 20/11/2023 - We published a new large-scale model, BSkG3!
- 10/10/2023 - A new preprint is available: arXiv:2310.05090.
- 02/10/2023 - My first day as a permanent researcher at the F.R.S.-FNRS.
- 27/09/2023 - Three new conference proceedings came out, check the publications page!
- 01/07/2023 - Launch of my new website