Nuclear collisions from the mean-field into the fragmentation regime

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At first sight the topic dealt with in this book may seem very technical and specialized. However it aims at presenting one very fundamental aspect of modern nuclear physics. At low incident energies, the collision of two nuclei is governed by the rearrangement of individual nucleons within the average mean field created by all of them. At high energies, the wavelength of nucleons is so short that they essentially experience individual nucleon-nucleon collisions without much influence of collective nuclear effects. Very interesting and enlightening phenomena occur when the velocity of the colliding nuclei is of the same order of magnitude as the velocity of nucleons within the nuclei. Up until recently beams of nuclei accelerated to the Fermi energy and above were not available to allow for an efficient study of that transition regime. Within a few years spectacular progress has been made to clarify the main issues, formulate the operating concepts and put order in the growing body of experimental results. The contributions in this book present the current status of this new field. They go from the study of the thermodynamics of bound nuclear systems to some remarkable signatures of the collision process. Some new features of nuclear structure which are revealed in collisions at the Fermi energy are also presented.

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