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Physics  2005 

Compound nuclear decay and the liquid to vapor phase transition: a physical picture

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevC.72.064605

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Analyses of multifragmentation in terms of the Fisher droplet model (FDM) and the associated construction of a nuclear phase diagram bring forth the problem of the actual existence of the nuclear vapor phase and the meaning of its associated pressure. We present here a physical picture of fragment production from excited nuclei that solves this problem and establishes the relationship between the FDM and the standard compound nucleus decay rate for rare particles emitted in first-chance decay. The compound thermal emission picture is formally equivalent to a FDM-like equilibrium description and avoids the problem of the vapor while also explaining the observation of Boltzmann-like distribution of emission times. In this picture a simple Fermi gas thermometric relation is naturally justified and verified in the fragment yields and time scales. Low energy compound nucleus fragment yields scale according to the FDM and lead to an estimate of the infinite symmetric nuclear matter critical temperature between 18 and 27 MeV depending on the choice of the surface energy coefficient of nuclear matter.


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