Nuclear level density, thermalization, chaos, and collectivity

Vladimir Zelevinsky, Mihai Horoi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The knowledge of the level density is necessary for understanding nuclear reactions involving excited nuclear states. In particular, it is an important element in description of astrophysical processes and in technological applications. This review article explains main ideas of physics forming the level density in complex nuclei that grows very fast due to combinatorial complexity of total excitation energy shared by many constituents. This can be translated into a language of statistical physics by the Darwin–Fowler method. We briefly go through the historical development from the nuclear Fermi-gas model to the self-consistent mean field including the pairing effects. At the next step we introduce the ideas of thermalization in a closed mesoscopic system and quantum chaos with very complicated eigenfunctions. This is supported by the experience of the shell model in a limited orbital space that either provides an exact solution or uses the Monte Carlo approach. The statistical method of moments allows one to avoid the exact diagonalization keeping intact the quality of the results. We discuss the popular “constant temperature model” that describes well available data and the shell-model results; it is shown that its success cannot be explained by the phase transition from superfluid to a normal phase. The interpretation is suggested, supported by the numerical studies, in terms of dynamical chaotization including the collective enhancement of the level density. The role of incoherent collision-like interactions is stressed as a necessary element of the thermalization process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-213
Number of pages34
JournalProgress in Particle and Nuclear Physics
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Chaos
  • Nuclear level density
  • Nuclear reactions
  • Nuclear structure


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