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The Israel Physical Society (IPS) has awarded its 2015 IPS Prize for a Graduate Student in Experimental Physics to Or Hen, a 2015-2018 Pappalardo Fellow in Physics at MIT. Hen received the IPS honor for "his achievements in the area of high-energy nuclear physics."
In his PhD work at Tel-Aviv University, Hen and collaborators conducted experiments at the U.S. Jefferson National Accelerator Laboratory, studying the characteristics of short-range correlations (SRC) pairs in light and heavy nuclei. SRC pairs account for almost all high-momentum nucleon in nuclei and constitute 20-25 percent of the nuclear wave-function.
Hen’s group examined the effect of SRCs on an array of topics in astophysics and nuclear, particle, and atomic physics, showing that SRCs in atomic nuclei are predominantly neutron-proton pairs. This has significant implications in several areas of physics, including nuclear symmetry energy and neutron star structure; quark distributions in nuclei (the “EMC effect”); free (unbound) neutron structure; energy sharing, as well as correlations in ultra-cold two-component Fermi gases in atomic physics.
Hen, who began his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT this fall, is a member of the Hadronic Physics Group at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He will continue studying short-range correlations in nuclei, and will also develop and construct large-scale fast neutron detectors and perform experimental tests of the standard model of particle physics at low energies.