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Michael Birse


Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

I have supervised 9 PhD students and 3 MSc's. Recent graduates include:

Tom Barford, PhD (2004), " The renormalisation
group and applications in few-body systems"

Nick Petropoulos, PhD (2000), " Linear sigma model
and chiral symmetry at finite temperature"

Keith Richardson, PhD (1999), " Chiral symmetry
and the nucleon-nucleon interaction"

Possible future projects for students are:

"Effective Theories of Few-Nucleon Systems"

Developments at the borderline between particle and nuclear physics are leading to model-independent descriptions of the forces between nucleons. These make use of chiral perturbation theory to describe the long-range parts of the nuclear forces. Recent work at Manchester has used the renomalisation group to elucidate the importance of short-range terms in the nucleon-nucleon force and in the interaction among three nucleons. This project will extend the approach to include long-range interactions in three-body systems and will apply the results to the properties of 3H and 3He. In combination with the results of the preceeding project, this will allow extractions of neutron polarisabilities from Compton scattering experiments on 3He, as are planned at MAXLab and HIGS.

"Renormalisation Group for Nuclear Matter"

The renormalistion group (RG) equation for the Legendre effective ction has proved to very useful in particle and condensed-matter physics. This suppresses high-momentum modes by adding a scale-dependent regulator to the kinetic energy. As this scale is lowered the bare action, which can be expanded using point-like interactions, runs to the effective action with physical scattering amplitudes. We have recently applied this to pairing in nuclear matter. This project will extend that work to more realistic interactions, by including the effective range and three-body forces. The first step will be to solve the exact RG equation in vacuum to determine the couplings in the bare action. This is closely related to our work on the RG for nuclear forces in ChPT. It will provide the initial conditions on the evolution for a finite density of nucleons. The results will be used to study the properties of nuclear matter.

My group

Research Groups


Since 2006 I have been a Professor of Theoretical Physics. Before that, from 1986 to 2006, I was a  Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in Physics at the (Victoria) University of Manchester. During the period 1992 to 1997 I held an SERC Advanced Fellowship. Before arriving in Manchester, I was a postoc at the University of Maryland (1981--83) and then the University of Washington (1983--85). I have a PhD in Physics from the University of Surrey (1981) and a BA in Phyics from the University of Oxford (1978).

I was a member of the editorial board for Journal of Physics G (1991-94) and then its deputy editor (1995--1996). I have also served on the editorial board for Physical Review C (1999--2001). In 2003-04, I was one of the working party that wrote the chapter on Quantum Chromodynamics for the NuPECC Long-Range Plan 2004: Perspectives for Nuclear Physics Research in Europe. From 2002 to 2006, I served on the Board of Directors of the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas.

Research interests

I work with at the intersection between particle and nuclear physics. In particular I am interested in the role played by the symmetries of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) in the structure and interactions of nucleons and mesons. The most important of these symmetries of the strong interaction is a chiral symmetry which is respected by up and down quarks (the ones we are made of) because they have very small masses in QCD. The strong attraction between quarks and antiquarks means that "empty" space is filled with a Bose-Einstein condensate of quark-antiquark pairs,
which acts like a Higgs field and hides the chiral symmetry. My work takes advantage of the way pions (the lightest mesons) "remember" this symmetry in their interactions. It makes use of a range of theoretical
techniques including effective field theory and the renormalisation group.

I am also interested in transitions from ordinary nuclear matter to new phases such as a quark-gluon plasma or a colour superconductor. The plasma is the phase of matter which existed shortly after the Big Bang, and which may be recreated by colliding heavy nuclei together at ultrarelativistic energies. Colour-superconducting quark matter may exist at very high densities in the centre of neutron (or quark) stars.


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