Nuclei which lie at the limits of stability often exhibit surprising behavior and have very different properties from the stable elements which we see around us in our every day lives. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, they may decay via several exotic pathways, and they are often intricately linked to nucleosynthesis, in other words to the formation of elements in the cosmos.
Producing such nuclei is an extreme challenge, and to do so selectively requires the combination of number of novel techniques. In this project we will use lasers to probe the unique fingerprint that the nucleus leaves on the electronic energy levels. Tiny perturbations to these levels as one removes or adds a nucleon (proton or neutron) can be precisely measured, revealing hidden features of the nucleus including its size and shape, as well as spin. These properties can then be compared with state-of-the-art theories, to improve such models and to understand better how the atomic nucleus works.