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Those who devote themselves to science with their whole soul
Will reap its most beautiful fruit

  M. Smoluchowski


History of the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Institute of Physics of the Jagiellonian University

(Author: prof. dr hab. Lucjan Jarczyk)


For a better understanding of the history of the establishment of the Department of Nuclear Physics (ZFJ UJ), it is worth going all the way back to its roots, to the time of the Commission of National Education. The Unit for Physics of the Jagiellonian University was established in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Father Andrzej Trzciński was appointed professor of physics. In the following years, as a result of the strong commitment of successive professors, physics developed, physicists were trained, apparatus was expanded and the number of physics laboratories in the Collegium Physicum in the building on św. Anny Street increased. The building on św. Anny Street housed the departments of mathematics, physics, animate nature and medicine. The Unit for Experimental Physics was headed, among others, by world-famous professors: Zygmunt Wróblewski (who together with prof. Karol Olszewski discovered a way to liquefy nitrogen and oxygen), August Witkowski and Marian Smoluchowski.

In 1911, a new building exclusively for physicists, at 13 Gołębia Street, was completed. The new premises were built thanks to the efforts of prof. A. Witkowski. This yielded significant developments in university physics. After Professor Witkowski's death, the building on Gołębia Street was named the Witkowski Collegium.

The following years brought serious perturbations in the development of physics at the University. With the outbreak of World War I, the Witkowski Collegium was taken away from the physicists to establish a military hospital. During World War II, in November 1939, the Germans occupied the building on Gołębia Street, arresting some employees of the Institute of Physics, and established the "Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit” within its premises. The occupants devastated the institute utterly – they took away all the property and apparatus.

Following the liberation of Krakow in 1945, Professor Konstanty Zakrzewski and Professor Jan Weyssenhoff together with their colleagues began teaching physics after the renovation of the Witkowski Collegium. The Unit for Experimental Physics continued to be headed by Professor Zakrzewski. In 1946, the Second Unit for Experimental Physics with the Department was established. Professor Henryk Niewodniczański was appointed as head. The professor had previously worked at top European physics centers, including the University of Tübingen and Cambridge in the laboratories of prof. Ernest Rutherford. After the death of prof. Zakrzewski in 1948, the two units were merged. The established Unit for Experimental Physics with the Department was taken over by prof. Henryk Niewodniczański. After the merger of the two experimental units, some of Professor Zakrzewski's senior colleagues took up head positions at other universities (including the AGH University of Science and Technology, the Agricultural University and the University of Wrocław).

From the beginning, Professor Niewodniczański had a vision of a large scientific and teaching center for physics in Krakow. He became heavily involved in the reconstruction and development of experimental physics and knew that it was necessary to have a top-level scientific infrastructure in place in Krakow. He based the development of the Unit mainly on young physicists including Andrzej Hrynkiewicz, Maria Danuta Kunisz, Jerzy Janik. The main areas of experimental physics that Professor Niewodniczański developed were research in nuclear physics, solid state physics, and atomic optics.

It is noteworthy that in 1947, on the initiative of Professor Weyssenhoff, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) organized the first major post-war international Conference on Cosmic Rays in Krakow, at the Institute of Physics at 13 Gołębia Street. The conference was attended by, among others, future Nobel laureates – professors C.F. Powell and P. Blackett. Professor Powell presented for the first time results from which the existence of the π meson was inferred.

Two nuclear physics research groups, among others, were formed in the Unit for Experimental Physics, with one researching nuclear reactions at low energies and the other nuclear spectroscopy. A laboratory for the construction of detectors, including Geiger-Mueller counters (Grotowski, Czyżewski) and a nuclear emulsions laboratory (M. Wielowiejska, L. Jarczyk, Z Wróbel, Z Lewandowski) were established. Professor Niewodniczański initiated the construction of the C48 cyclotron and the AJGES accelerator at the Institute at 13 Gołębia Street. Thanks to his enthusiasm, the Unit for Experimental Physics gathered a group of physicists with experience acquired in research conducted in Krakow and during research visits abroad. Professor’s efforts enabled such visits in major scientific centers; nuclear physicists who visited foreign universities abroad include: A. Hrynkiewicz (USA), A. Strzałkowski, K. Grotowski (UK) and L. Jarczyk (Switzerland).

In the mid-1950s, the situation of nuclear physics in the country changed as a result of political and governmental decisions. Poland bought a cyclotron and a nuclear reactor from the USSR. Owing to professor Niewodniczański's far-sighted and active policy on the development of nuclear physics at the University, a new institute was established in Krakow, now known as the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN). The professor believed that Krakow's solidified physics center was best prepared to work with the cyclotron. As a result, based on the decision of the then authorities, the Russian U120 cyclotron was installed in Bronowice. This enabled the development of nuclear research in Poland, particularly in Krakow. Opportunities for acquiring suitable apparatus emerged, and the purchase of specialized equipment became easier. Physicists from the Unit for Experimental Physics of the Jagiellonian University (A. Strzałkowski, A. Hrynkiewicz, J. Janik and K. Grotowski) took an active part in organizing the new research center. The first director of the new Institute was prof. Niewodniczański.

The Unit for Experimental Physics continued to develop. The number of employees was increasing. Teaching facilities were also expanding. In the late 1950s, an advanced Student Nuclear Laboratory was organized and launched in the Unit for Experimental Physics (L. Jarczyk, H. Lizurej, Z. Wróbel).

The increase in experimental and teaching activities in the Unit for Experimental Physics and the increase in the number of research staff prompted prof. Niewodniczański to separate the Unit for Nuclear Physics from the Unit for Experimental Physics in 1961. Professor Andrzej Hrynkiewicz became the head of the new Unit. In the following years, prof. Niewodniczański established further units: Unit for Solid State Physics and Unit for Atomic Optics.

In the newly established Unit for Nuclear Physics, nuclear physicists continued their scientific research, still in two groups. One of them conducted research on nuclear reactions, while the other worked on nuclear spectroscopy. A significant expansion of scientific research in nuclear physics occurred. On the initiative of Professor Hrynkiewicz, the research also included the properties of solids. New equipment was built for this purpose: a Mössbauer-effect apparatus and a nuclear resonance apparatus.

The nuclear reactions research group developed a high level of activity. Using the U120 cyclotron beam this group, together with colleagues from the Bronowice-based IFJ PAN (including prof. Andrzej Budzanowski) focused in particular on the scattering of alpha particles on atomic nuclei. They discovered, among others, the so-called "Glory" phenomenon.
The activities of the nuclear spectroscopy research group (Andrzej Bałanda, Krzysztof Królas, Reinhard Kulessa, Władysław Waluś) were also very lively. The Unit developed apparatus for measuring directional correlations and lifetimes of excited nuclei. A double magnetic beta spectrometer was also built (H. Lizurej). Joint research on the properties of excited states of atomic nuclei by methods of perturbed gamma-ray angular correlations was conducted. A group involved in research at the intersection of nuclear physics and solid state physics (K. Królas) was also established at the ZFJ UJ. To this end, it built a state-of-the-art apparatus for measuring the perturbed directional correlation of gamma radiation. Close scientific cooperation was established with the IFJ PAN in Krakow, and joint research was conducted.

In the second half of the 1960s, cooperation with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna developed, particularly with the Nuclear Reaction Laboratory. An independent group was formed (Waluś, Kulessa, Balanda, Królas), led by prof. Andrew Hrynkiewicz, which dealt with measuring the lifetimes of excited nuclear states and research on decay patterns. Research on mesoatoms on the synchrotron's proton beam was also conducted at the Nuclear Problems Laboratory. Joint research at JINR continued until the mid-1970s.

In the 1970s, group members established a number of scientific contacts with leading European scientific institutions. In the case of prof. R. Kulessa, cooperation with ETH Zürich, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the Helmholtz Heavy Duty Center in Darmstadt should be mentioned. Prof. W. Waluś cooperated in Lund with the Institute of Atomic Physics in Stockholm (AFI Stockholm), the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, prof. And Balanda with the Institute of Physics in Groningen, prof. K. Królas with Universities in France, Germany, the Netherlands. 

In 1960, a very effective collaboration lasting for more than 60 years now began between physicists of the Department of Nuclear Physics and the Institute of Physics of the Swiss Federal Polytechnic University ETH Zürich. This very fruitful collaboration was made possible by the professors: Paul Scherrer – longtime head of the ETH Institute of Physics, Pierre Marmier – ETH President, and Juerg Lang – head of the Nuclear Physics Laboratory. In December 1959, L. Jarczyk went to Switzerland. In 1960–1962, together with Swiss colleagues (R. Mueller, R. Balzer, W. Woelfli, H. Knoepfel), he studied (n,γ) reactions using neutrons from the SAPHIR reactor. The spectra of the emitted photons were measured with high resolution capability using a magnetic gamma spectrometer.

In the 1970s, collaboration expanded significantly. A new tandem van de Graaff accelerator was commissioned at the ETH Nuclear Physics Laboratory. The first experiment was related to the research on the decay of deuterium nuclei in the electromagnetic field of heavy nuclei. Research topics with increasing participation of physicists from the Department of Nuclear Physics expanded. Mention should be made of research on deuteron decay in the field of light nuclei (K. Bodek, L. Jarczyk, B. Kamys, Z. Wróbel). Reactions using the world's first 9Be nucleus beam were studied (Bodek, Jarczyk, Kamys, Strzałkowski, Witała). A number of experiments were performed, studying neutron transfer reactions in particular. They were looking for exotic nuclear molecular states supposed to be formed in reactions with light nuclei (9Be+ 12C). Their existence was postulated earlier. The measurements and their analysis showed that such states do not exist.  A very important experiment was the measurement of P-parity violation in elastic proton-proton scattering. According to W. Haeberlie and M. Simonius, a suitable parity-violating observable is the measurement of the longitudinal analyzing power in the scattering of protons polarized along momentum – parallel and antiparallel. The measurement showed that the parity violation in p–p scattering corresponds to the weak interaction contribution to the scattering. This measurement is one of the most accurate conducted over P-parity violation in the hadron sector (St. Kistryn, J. Smyrski). The β decay of 8Li nuclei was also studied. This is one of the most accurate results saying that T is not preserved.

In the mid-1980s, the ETH/UJ group extended experiments toward the study of fundamental symmetries in lepton and semilepton systems. The experiments were conducted at the Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research (SIN) – now the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) – using a cyclotron beam with a maximum energy of 590 MeV, which produces pions and muon beams. Polarization observables in the capture of muons by atomic nuclei were measured. The degree of symmetry violation was also determined by measuring muon decay and capture (Bodek, Kistryn, Zejma, Sromicki). For many years, our physicists from the Department of Nuclear Physics (Bodek, Zejma), as part of a large international group, have been involved in measuring such an important property as the electric dipole moment (EDM) of the neutron at the Paul Scherrer Institute. They use polarized cold neutrons from the SINQ source for this purpose. The result obtained is the best in the world so far (10-28 e·cm). Work is currently underway to improve the measurement apparatus for reducing the upper limit of the neutron EDM. 

Also noteworthy are the measurements of deuteron breakup, which were carried out as part of a cooperation between physicists from the ZFJ UJ and ETH. The breakup reaction of deuterons (p+d) at different kinematic configurations was measured using a proton beam with an energy of 65 MeV, determining the cross sections and analyzing power Ay (Kistryn, Bodek, E. Stephen from the University of Silesia) and also (n+d) → deuterium breakup at energies of 67 MeV.

This long-standing cooperation between physicists from ETH and the ZFJ UJ has been going on for almost 60 years. It is highly appreciated by both sides. Thanks to it, there has been a serious development of nuclear reaction research in Krakow, especially in the area of testing the behavior of fundamental symmetries. Jagiellonian University emphasized the importance of cooperation with ETH by awarding prof. Juerg Lang, longtime head of the ETH Nuclear Physics Laboratory, with the Merentibus Medal.

In the mid-1980s, cooperation was established with the Institute of Physics of the Ruhr University in Bochum, in the group of prof. Detlef Kamke. Using a neutron beam, the n-n scattering length and also the breakup of deuterons in the d(nspol,n)np reaction at neutron energies of 22 and 68 MeV were measured, among other things, on a local accelerator (Bodek, Kistryn, Jarczyk, Strzałkowski, Zejma).

At that time in Bochum, cooperation was established with the theoretical group of Professor Glöckle, who was working on a model description of breakup. As a result, a world-renowned theoretical group led by prof. Henryk Witała, then a Humboldt Fellow, was established in our Department (Witała, Golak, Skibiński). A great achievement of the group of prof. Witała in cooperation with prof. Gloecke was the extension of the model of the deuteron breakup reaction caused by nucleons. Prof. W. Glöckle and prof. H. Witała worked out a method of strictly solving the Faddeev equations for 3 nucleons. From the analysis of experimental data, it is necessary to take into account three-nucleon forces and Coulombic interactions. In recognition of the importance of cooperation with Bochum University, Jagiellonian University awarded Professor Glöckle the Merentibus Medal.

The theoretical group of the Department of Nuclear Physics (Golak, Skibiński, Witała) also dealt with such processes as light nuclei photofission, neutrino interactions with these nuclei, meson and non-meson decays of the hypernucleus Λ3H. Currently, prof. Witała and his colleagues cooperate with numerous important centers of international importance, such as the universities of Bonn, Bochum, Basel, Graz, Duke University and TUNL, IUCF, the University of Tokyo, Kyushu University, RIKEN and RCNP centers.

Cooperation was also established at this time with prof. Hartwig Freiesleben from Bochum and prof. Walter Wolter of the University of Munich. At the Garching Accelerator Center, research on the reaction mechanism in collisions of light atomic nuclei such as 6Li and 7Li were conducted (Rudy, Kamys, Jarczyk).

1982 marked the beginning of an extremely fruitful cooperation between the ZFJ UJ and the Forschungszentrum Jülich, a collaboration that has now lasted more than 35 years. The people on the German side who supported and contributed to such excellent cooperation between Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZ) and the ZFJ UJ were mainly professors: Joachim Treusch, Walter Oelert, Otto Schult, Hans Stroeher. In the first stage of cooperation (1982–1986), research on nuclear multinucleon transfer reactions (3H, 3He, 4H, 5He, 5Li) in reactions induced by d, 3He, 4He ions on light nuclei using the particle beam of the JULIC cyclotron was conducted (Jarczyk, Kamys, Magiera, Rudy, Strzałkowski, B. Styczeń, Oelert). The following served as detectors: BIG KARL and the "F" chamber with solid-state detectors. After launching the heavy ion source, elastic scattering, inelastic scattering, transfer and fragmentation reactions of 12C nuclei for beam energies around 30 MeV/nucleon were studied.

In the late 1980s, construction of a new unique COSY (Cooler Synchrotron) accelerator, accelerating protons to energies of about 3 GeV, was undertaken in Jülich. This required the construction of new detection systems – COSY11, ANKE, PISA, modifications to the Big Karl detector. Physicists from the ZFJ UJ were responsible for the construction of the relevant important components of these detectors. Professor Jerzy Smyrski organized the Detector Laboratory in Krakow for this purpose. Sets of drift chambers with a constant field gradient for the COSY-11 and Big Karl experiments were designed and constructed. Over the next four years, further detectors were developed in our laboratory: drift chambers with targets containing dual sensing wires and a set of chambers with hexagonal-shaped targets extending the momentum acceptance of the COSY-11 detection system. A set of proportional detectors was also built to monitor the COSY beam profile. The chambers have worked and continue to work brilliantly. Work has also been undertaken to develop the relevant electronic circuits. The members of the technical team of the Detector Laboratory headed by prof. J. Smyrski include: A. Heczko, A. Malarz, W. Migdał, J. Majewski, A. Misiak.

In 2006, installation of the WASA (Wide Angle Shower Apparatus) detector began in Juelich. The detector was transferred from the Svedberg Laboratory in Uppsala. Accordingly, around 2012, the existing COSY-11, Big Karl, PISA detection devices were taken out of service. Measurements on the COSY accelerator were already being conducted only with the WASA@COSY detector.

After the launch of the COSY accelerator, several teams were active in Jülich. They were COSY-11, COSY13, GEM Big-Karl, PISA, ANKE, EDDA, COSY-TOF, MOMO. University physicists together with colleagues from the Forschungszentrum actively participated in the first four teams. Later, after the WASA-COSY detector was installed, a very large WASA@COSY collaboration was formed.

  • COSY-11 group (Jarczyk, Kamys, Magiera, Moskal, Rudy, Smyrski, Strzałkowski, Kilian, Oelert), whose research program was very diverse and comprehensive. Noteworthy are: production of mesons (mainly η, η') in elementary interactions – mainly in reactions of the p + p type. To understand this important process, cross sections of meson production, especially near the production threshold, angular distributions, polarization effects were measured. Threshold measurements of the pp → ppη reaction indicate a strong proton-η interaction. Also measured was the near threshold production of strange K+K- meson pairs in proton-proton collisions. Noteworthy is also the measurement of the energy dependence of the reaction pd → 3Heη for the energy in the reaction threshold region (Smyrski, Moskal). The results determine the upper limit of the active section for the possible existence of eta-mesoatoms.
  • The GEM and MOMO (BIG Karl) group (Magiera, Jarczyk, Smyrski, Strzałkowski, Machner, Kilian) dealt with, among other things, measurements of near-threshold one- and two-pion production in p+d reactions, mixing of π0-η mesons in pd → 3Hπ → 3Heπ0 reactions using the Big Karl detector for particle detection. Measurements were also made of deuteron breakup in the 1H(dspol, pp)n reaction at an energy of 130 MeV at small exit angles of both protons. This confirmed the importance of Coulombic forces in the decay of deuterium nuclei (Kistryn).
  • The COSY-13 group (Jarczyk, Kamys, Kistryn, Magiera, Rudy, Strzałkowski, Cassing, Schult, Ohm) studied the properties of the Λ hyperon in nuclear matter. In a special scattering chamber, the production of heavy hypernuclei in reactions induced by protons of 1.9 GeV energy was measured using the "shadow" method. The lifetimes of hyperons in heavy nuclei (Au, Pb, U) were measured. It turned out that the lifetimes of these hypernuclei are shorter than predicted by the generally applied so-called ΔI = ½ rule.
  • The PISA group (Jarczyk, Kamys, Kistryn, Magiera, Rudy, Goldenbaum, Macher) studied spallation reactions induced by protons with energies of 1 GeV to 2.5 GeV. An apparatus was built to measure charged particle reaction products from proton to nitrogen nuclei. Energy distributions were measured for different emission angles. A very large experimental data set was obtained. An analysis was made based on commonly used models. Model predictions do not reproduce many experimental facts even for simple proton energy spectra. This suggests the need for significant modification of spallation reaction models.
  • The WASA-at-COSY collaboration includes physicists from more than 30 different institutions, including ZFJ (Moskal, Jarczyk, Kamys, Kistryn, Rudy, Magiera, Smyrski). The topics of the research are very broad, and include the pd → 3Henπ0 reaction. The upper limit of the cross-section for the formation of η mesonucleus 4Heη was determined, the dd→alpha π0 reaction was studied – this is the second in the world measurement of this reaction imposing a large violation of the charge symmetry; the so-called dark photon in the η → e+e−γ reaction was searched for, and as a result of extensive and diverse measurements on the WASA-COSY detector (scattering of polarized neutrons on protons, measurement of other reactions) the existence of dibaryon was discovered (H. Clement). This is arguably the most important discovery of the WASA-COSY collaboration.

As a result of the decision of the Forschungszentrum authorities, the work of the COSY accelerator is being significantly reduced. Work continues on the measurement of the significantly important Electric Dipole Moment (EDM) of charged particles as part of the JEDI collaboration, which includes physicists from the Forschunszentrum Jülich, the ZFJ UJ (Magiera, Stroeher) and the Technical University of Aachen. International interest in the subject is growing. 

The cooperation between the Forschungszentrum and our University has been and continues to be highly appreciated by both sides. The people who supported FZ Jülich's cooperation with the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Jagiellonian University from the German side were professors: Joachim Treusch, Walter Oelert, Otto Schult, Hans Stroeher. The importance of this cooperation for our University is evidenced by awarding Professor Joachim Treusch the, longtime director of the Forschungszentrum, with the title of doctor honoris causa by the Jagiellonian University. Prof. Oelert became a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prof. Macher was awarded the Merentibus Medal. The Forschungszentrum also spoke highly of the cooperation with Jagiellonian University. Prof. L. Jarczyk and prof. A Strzałkowski received the Grand Cross First Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and prof. Jarczyk also received the "Minerva-Preis Jülich" – Foerderverein Kulturhaus Jülich e.V – for the development of cultural and scientific cooperation between Jülich and Krakow.
In 1976, cooperation began with the GSI Institute in Darmstadt (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung mbH). At that time, Professors Paul Mokler and Peter Armbruster suggested to Andrzej Warczak that he take up atomic physics experimentally, in particular the study of electron shell processes and the characteristic X-rays generated in collisions during collisions between heavy ions and atoms. Due to the range of photon energies observed in the collisions, experimental methods and equipment typical of nuclear physics were used. This research used an ion beam of any atomic number (Z) in the energy range of 1.4 MeV/n – 20 MeV/n. The accelerator pool was expanded to include the SIS-18 synchrotron.

Over time, cooperation has expanded significantly. New research teams have been formed:

  • LAND collaboration (R. Kulessa, W. Waluś were the participants o part of the ZFJ UJ) used radioactive beams of SIS accelerator, discovered two-photon excitations of dipole giant resonance using Coulombic excitations with relativistic heavy ions with energies of the order of 600 MeV/u. Nuclei with a neutron "halo" and nuclear and electromagnetic excitations of neutron-enhanced oxygen isotopes were also studied.
  • The KAOS collaboration, of which W. Waluś was a member, was involved in the production of K+ and K- pions and kaons in heavy ion collisions with energies of 1-2 AGeV using the KaoS Kaon Spectrometer. Information has been obtained, among other things, on the equation of state of nuclear matter and on changes in the properties of kaons in dense nuclear matter.
  • The HADES collaboration is an international research group that also includes physicists from the ZFJ UJ (Salabura, Bałanda, Smyrski, Kulessa, Waluś).

From 1984 to 1995, the production of low-energy e+e pairs emitted in heavy-ion collisions near the Coulomb barrier was studied. Among other things, axion decay was sought. Measurements with the EPOS spectrometer made with high statistics did not confirm the existence of the postulated anion decay. The change in the properties of mesons, particularly ρ mesons in compacted nuclear matter, was also studied.
At the same time, the ZFJ UJ group (Bałanda, Kulessa, Salabura, Korcyl) undertook the construction of one of the main detectors of the new HADES (High Acceptance Dielectron Spectrometer) magnetic spectrometer. One of the spectrometer's main detectors – an electromagnetic cascade detector consisting of nearly 20,000 channels – was built. The reading of this detector is pioneering and state-of-the-art.
In 2003, experiments began using the HADES detector. The world's first measurements of baryon resonance decays in the e+e- channel were made. Among other things, it was found that hadronic matter changes its properties when reaching higher density and temperature. Consequently, it turned out in a direct way that the structure of baryons is complex. There is a modification of the quark-gluon structure of nucleons and also a change in the strong coupling constant at higher interaction energies. This is a signature of the chiral symmetry of strong interactions in the area of the phase transition from hadron gas to quark-gluon plasma.

Jagiellonian University, emphasizing the importance of cooperation with the Darmstadt center, awarded Professor Gisbert zu Putlitz, director of the GSI, a title of doctor honoris causa of Jagiellonian University (1996) for developing Polish-German scientific cooperation. Professor Paul Mokler was awarded the Jagiellonian University's 600th Anniversary Renewal Medal by the Rector of the Jagiellonian University in 2004 for the development of cooperation between GSI physicists and physicists of the Institute of Physics at the Jagiellonian University. In turn, prof. P. Salabura was chairman of the entire HADES collaboration from 2003 to 2014. Cooperation has also been undertaken with the Universities of Messina and Catania, as well as with the INFN in Catania (Professors R. Potenza, V. D'Amico, D. de Pasquuale). The processes involved in the collision of 11B nuclei with 12C nuclei at energies of 15–40 MeV were studied using the INFN accelerator. In the case of alpha particle transfer in the 12C(11B,7Li)16O reaction, the possibility of the existence of a tetrahedral structure in the 16O nucleus was studied (Jarczyk, Kamys, M. Kistryn, Magiera, Rudy, Strzałkowski).

At the beginning of the 21st century, cooperation was also established with a significant European center, the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati dell'INFN (the INFN National Laboratory of Frascati). The Frascati center has a DAΦNE accelerator that produces K mesons. Since 2006, a group of physicists from the ZFJ UJ (Moskal, Czerwiński, Silarski) has been working together with Italian colleagues. With the KLOE 2 detector, work is being carried out on the properties of K mesons, their decays and lifetimes. Particularly important are studies of processes in which fundamental symmetries can be expected to be violated. This applies to C, T, CPT and CP symmetry. Analysis of various measured K meson decay processes suggests that certain symmetries may not be preserved. In an analysis on model grounds, phenomena not captured by the Standard Model may affect the outcome.

Physicists in their research also go beyond their immediate scope of interest. Mössbauer apparatus as well as research using nuclear resonance provide opportunities to study samples whose properties are of interest to solid-state physicists and beyond.
Noteworthy is the almost 10-year collaboration between nuclear physicists and physicians. The research work was of practical nature, using nuclear physics methods. A group of physicists from the ZFJ UJ (prof. L. Jarczyk, prof. E. Rokita, prof. A. Strzałkowski, prof. T. Cichocki, prof. M. Sych) – studied the content of rare elements in biological samples using proton-induced X-ray emissions (PIXE) analysis. Medics were interested in determining the concentration of microelements in various pathological tissues, heart tissue, and blood. For example, lead content in the blood of gas station workers (leaded gasoline was still sold back then), bio-element content in arthritis patients, in aortas, etc., was studied.

For several years now, the world has been undergoing a change in accelerator structure. Research with smaller accelerators is being limited. This also applies to the accelerator centers with which our physicists have worked so far. Research in large centers is gaining main importance. Work on the determination of the EDM of the neutron is being carried out in Switzerland, with active participation of the physicists from the ZDJ UJ (Bodek, Zejma). In turn, work is being carried out at the Forschungszentrum in Jülich on the control of devices and detectors being built as components of the Panda detector apparatus. An international collaboration of physicists from FZ-Jülich, the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Jagiellonian University (A. Magiera, A. Wrońska) and the Technical University of Aachen is using the COSY accelerator to measure the electric dipole moment for charged particles. This research is of international interest. Research in hadron physics will continue at the Helmholtz Center in Darmstadt using the FAIR proton accelerator. A team of physicists from all over the world has been formed for the implementation of the PANDA experiments, which also includes physicists from the ZFJ UJ working so far in Jülich and Darmstadt (Magiera, Moskal, Salabura, Smyrski, Rudy). Physicists from the ZFJ UJ (Smyrski, Korcyl) are developing straw tube detectors stabilized with gas overpressure. These are trace detectors for measuring the momentum of particles in the PANDA forward spectrometer. The main advantages are their very low weight. The technical design of modular gas straw tube detectors with very lightweight compact support frames has been prepared. Work is also underway on pioneering and state-of-the-art electronic detector reading. Close cooperation has again been established with the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Bronowice. A new cyclotron, PROTEUS-235, which accelerates protons to an energy of 230 MeV, has begun operation at the IFJ PAN. 3 groups of university physicists were formed together with Bronowice physicists working on: spallation reactions, cancer therapy and light nucleus breakup reactions.
The spallation research group (Kamys, Magiera, Rudy and physicists from the IFJ PAN) prepared the apparatus for the detection of spallation reaction products. A special chamber with a diameter of 1.5 meters and KRATTA detectors were designed and constructed. The detection system will allow the angular and energy distributions of reaction products to be measured. Work is currently underway to transport the beam from the cyclotron to the scattering chamber. The obtained energy and angular distributions of the reaction products should help determine why the reaction models that exist to date do not describe the energy distributions of particles, in particular the distributions of protons – the products of the spallation reaction. The cancer therapy research group (Magiera, Wrońska) deals with the use of gamma radiation emitted from patient tissues during proton irradiation from the PROTEUS-235 cyclotron as part of cancer therapy. This requires a suitable detector that measures the spectrum of gamma radiation in tissues as a result of the (p,γ) reaction. Photons with energies that characterize the relevant elements are emitted. For this purpose, a special detector is being constructed to monitor photons under conditions of cancer therapy.  Elementary reactions for elements found in tissues and γ-ray emissions in phantoms simulating living organisms during patient irradiation are also measured. The experiments were conducted in Heidelberg at the Ionenstrahl-Therapiezentrum and at the Cyclotron Center in Bronowice, Krakow.
The breakup research group (St. Kistryn) is continuing its long-standing research on the breakup of deuterium nuclei by collision with protons using a cyclotron beam. This is a continuation of the Group's activities which began in the mid-1980s – i.e. lasting for more than 30 years. The first measurements were made in cooperation with the Institute of Physics at Ruhr University in Bochum. The breakup of polarized deuterons in the d(nspol,n)pn reaction at 68 MeV was measured. Further measurements in Switzerland at ETH looked at the d(pspol, pp)n reaction at an energy of 65 MeV. The p(dspol, pp)n reaction was measured at 130 MeV at FZ Jülich using the Big Karl detector system. Using the WASA@COSY detection system, the p(dspol, pp)n reaction was measured at energies of 340 MeV, 380 MeV, 400 MeV at small exit angles of both protons. In 1996, the university group established a partnership with the Institute of Nuclear Physics (KVI) in Groningen, the Netherlands. The KVI studied p(dspol, pp)n breakup reactions at energies of 130 MeV, 100 MeV and 180 MeV. Measurements of 4-body processes, i.e. d(dspol, pd)n reactions at 180 MeV and 100 MeV energies, have been initiated. Currently, measurements continue at IFJ PAN in Bronowice, Krakow, together with physicists from Bronowice, Katowice and Warsaw at energies of 108, 135 and 160 MeV, so the experimental base has been further expanded. The measurements are very diverse. The goal and outcome of all these studies was to measure cross sections and vector and tensor analyzing powers. Observables were measured in different kinematic configurations (QFS, FSI, collinearity, star) at different beam energies. This huge experimental material provided an excellent basis for theoretical analysis of the breakup process, for a better understanding of what processes-interactions are important in this process. As noted earlier, the Krakow-Bochum group (H. Witała, W. Gloeckle) dealt with the theoretical analysis of such extensive experimental material on the basis of effective field theory (EFT) called ChPT (chiral perturbation theory). 2-body, 3-body and 4-body potentials were constructed. The Krakow-Bochum group used the pioneering results of the experimental group to show for the first time that 3-body force effects play an important role in breakup, demonstrated the important role played by Coulombic interactions and, within the framework of baryon channel theory, showed explicitly that the inclusion of Delta resonance automatically generates a 3-body force.

In 2014, prof. P. Moskal established the interdisciplinary J-PET Group at the ZFJ UJ, composed of physicists, biophysicists, medical physicists, chemists, engineers and electronics engineers from the Jagiellonian University, the National Center for Nuclear Research in Świerk, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, the University of Vienna and the National Laboratory in Frascati, also from the Modern Electronics Center. The J-PET Group is building a unique large tomograph with plastic scintillators – the Jagiellonian Positron Emission Tomograph (J-PET). The tomograph will be used not only for medical purposes, for proton therapy, but also to study fundamental symmetries through positronium decay measurements.

Scientific activities in the Department of Nuclear Physics are not only related to nuclear and hadron physics. Great attention has also been paid to studying the properties of matter using methods based on nuclear effects. At the time of the establishment of the Department of Nuclear Physics, prof. Hrynkiewicz initiated research using the Mössbauer effect and radiospectroscopy. A mechanical measuring apparatus based on the Mössbauer effect (Bara, Kulgawczuk, Lizurej, Sawicki) and a device for research based on radiospectroscopy (J. Blicharski) were built at the Department. Two research groups were formed – the Mössbauer effect and radiospectroscopy. Over the years, the scientific and personnel development of the two groups was so great that two new departments were created as a result of so-called "budding". This was done analogously to the Unit for Nuclear Physics, which was created in 1961 by "budding" from the Unit for Experimental Physics.

In 1972, the Department of Teaching Methodology and Methodology of Physics was established with Professor J. Bara as its head. The new Department took over the physicists and the Mössbauer mechanical and membrane apparatus, and dealt with improving the instrument's resolution capability and double resonance. In 2003, prof. Antoni Pędziwiatr took over the Department after prof. Bara’s retirement. There has been an expansion of research topics. Currently, research on the crystalline, magnetic and calorimetric properties of intermetallic compounds and their hydrides, carbides is being conducted. The Department established research cooperation with Carnegie-Melton University in Pittsburgh (USA) and the University of Zaragoza (Spain).

In 1980, the Department of Radiospectroscopy was established, with prof. J. Blicharski as its head. The new Department included physicists from the radioscopy group and some physicists from the Mössbauer group: K. Tomala, K. Łątka, W. Nosel, E. Goerlich, and H. Harańczyk. They took up the research on interference effects in nuclear magnetic resonance, the study of relaxation times of various biological samples, such as blood serum. After prof. Blicharski retired, prof. K. Łątka was appointed as the head of the Department of Radiospectroscopy. As a result of further "budding”, the Department of Low Temperature Physics was separated from the Department of Radiospectroscopy in 2005, headed by prof. K. Tomala. This Department continues to study the magnetic properties of rare elements using modern Mössbauer apparatus.

As a result of further "budding", the Department of Medical Physics (Stanek, Rokita) was established in 2002, with prof. J. Stanek as its head. The Department has three Mössbauer instruments that allow measurements in high vacuum, very low temperatures (2.3 K degrees) and strong magnetic fields. Research work is being carried out to describe the dynamics of biological systems at the molecular and cellular levels, to study the role of hemoglobin in nitric oxide transport. This research is carried out in cooperation with a number of institutions (including the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Frascati, Italy).

The scientific development of the Unit for Experimental Physics and then the Department of Nuclear Physics and the resulting so-called "budding" departments has been and continues to be possible thanks to the great contribution of our employees – professors, doctors, doctoral students, graduate students, technical staff. Undoubtedly, cooperation with foreign research centers has played a serious, fundamental role. Thanks to this, we had and still have access to modern accelerators, measuring devices, large libraries. We have become active, initiative-filled valued members of prominent research groups in Switzerland, Germany, the US, England and Italy. We can participate in leading research in the development of nuclear physics, hadron physics and elementary interactions, in learning more and more about new aspects of our Universe. The physicists from the Department of Nuclear Physics are co-authors of scientific papers published in major world journals (more than 1,000).

Particularly noteworthy are the first decades following the end of World War II. Without generous help, research visits, contacts with modern research would have been impossible. Foreign centers not only welcomed us into their research teams but covered all our financial expenses – travel, stay, etc. The great contribution of the Federal University of Technology in Zürich (ETHZ), Professors P. Marmier and J. Lang and especially Professor P. Scherrer cannot be underestimated. Also, the importance of cooperation with the Jülich Research Center (Forschungszentrum Jülich) must be emphasized. It is necessary to mention the names of the patrons of German-Polish cooperation – professors J. Treusch, O.Schult, H Stroeher. The Darmstadt Center has also played and continues to play a great role. Professors P. Kienle and also W. Henning and P. Brown-Munzinger have been great supporters of our cooperation. Speaking of cooperation, one cannot omit an extremely important aspect – the direct interaction of our physicists with colleagues whether Swiss, German, Italian. We formed joint groups without nationality.  Relations were not only characterized by an excellent atmosphere and kindness, they were downright friendly. Friends include R. Müller, W. Wolflie, R. Balzer, S. Martin of ETH, W. Oelert, H. Machner, D. Grzonke, P. von Rosset, G. P. A. Berg and many others (Jülich), professors J. Stroth from Frankfurt and W. Kuehn from Darmstadt.

Scientific achievements have contributed to the serious development of didactics. Research staff of the Department give lectures at the elementary level. Specialized lectures at a modern level, specialized seminars for students and separately for doctoral students have been developed. PhD programs in nuclear and hydronuclear physics have been developed. During this period, 19 individuals received the title of professor (Bałanda, Bara, Blicharski, Bodek, Golak, Jarczyk, Kamys, Kistryn, Kulessa, Królas, Magiera, Moskal, Rokita, Rudy, Salabura, Smyrski, Strzałkowski, Warczak, Witała). More than 150 individuals have received doctoral degrees in physical sciences.

The Department of Nuclear Physics has organized many international scientific conferences. The "International Workshop on Meson Production, Properties and Interaction" conferences, held in Krakow every two years by Jagiellonian University, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and INFN-LNF Frascati, are internationally recognized. The chairmen of these meson conferences on behalf of the university were prof. L. Jarczyk, prof. A. Magiera, prof. St. Kistryn. These conferences are attended by physicists from all over the world. 18 conferences have been organized so far.

The growth of physics at the University made the building on Gołębia Street too small and limited further development. Prof. Niewodniczański took the initiative to obtain a new, modern building for the Cluster of Physics Departments of the Jagiellonian University as one of the planned jubilee buildings for the 600th anniversary of the Jagiellonian University. These efforts were successful. Prof. Danuta Kunisz became the senior of the construction of the new building on Reymonta Street. The Institute of Physics took possession of its new headquarters in 1964 in a building at 4 Reymonta Street. In the early 1960s, the University was reorganized. In particular, the Cluster of Units for Physics was changed (formally) to the Institute of Physics and the Unit for Experimental Physics with the Department of Experimental Physics was changed (formally) to the Department of Experimental Physics. Similarly, the Unit for Nuclear Physics with the Department was changed (formally) to the Department of Nuclear Physics. There were no organizational changes or personnel transfers.

After 50 years, in turn, the building on Reymonta Street did not longer meet the requirements of physicists. On the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the renewal of the Jagiellonian University, a decision was made to build a new University Campus in Ruczaj, Krakow. A new building for the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science was constructed within the Campus, including a section to house the Institute of Physics. The senior of the construction was prof. Andrzej Warczak. The relocation to the new building at 11 prof. St. Łojasiewicza Street started in 2014. In the new building, in addition to lecture halls, student laboratories, staff rooms, specialty labs with Faraday screening, clean-labs, labs with anti-vibration plates, among others, have been put into operation. State-of-the-art laboratories have been established, including the Detectors Laboratory.


Throughout its history, the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Institute of Physics of the Jagiellonian University was headed by:

  • prof. dr hab. Andrzej Hrynkiewicz from 1961 to 1975
  • prof. dr hab. Adam Strzałkowski from 1975 to 1994
  • prof. dr hab. Reinhard Kulessa from 1994 to 2006
  • prof. dr hab. Bogusław Kamys from 2006 to 2016
  • prof. dr hab. Paweł Moskal since 2017.


In 2017, the Department of Nuclear Physics was further divided. The Cluster of Nuclear Physics Departments at the Institute of Physics of the Jagiellonian University was established. prof. dr. hab. Paweł Moskal was appointed as the head of the Team. The Cluster consists of:


  • Department of Experimental Particle Physics and Applications (head: prof. dr. hab. Paweł Moskal)
  • Department of Hadron Physics (head: prof. dr. hab. Piotr Salabura)
  • Department of Theory of Nuclear Systems (head: prof. dr. hab. Jacek Golak)