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Sait Umar

Professor of Physics

Research Interests

A robust description of the dynamics of atomic nuclei is at the heart of understanding many aspects of physics that span from the origin of the elements to the complex landscape on the surface of neutron stars. Nucleosynthesis, for instance, involves fusion of light nuclei, transfer and formation of neutron-rich nuclei, and the fission and subsequent recycling of fission products of heavy nuclei. Although reactions with stable nuclei have been extensively studied experimentally in the past, those with neutron rich nuclei that exhibit exotic structures such as neutron skins and halos are less known. Predictive theoretical models of low-energy nuclear dynamics are then crucial for reliable descriptions of such reactions. In addition, the recent development of exotic beams has significantly increased the range of available systems for reaction studies that could test these models, creating exciting opportunities at exotic beam facilities around the world. While there are many theoretical approaches to studying these disparate physical processes commonly encountered in the study of nuclei, it is advantageous to utilize a framework that can be more consistently employed to a wide swath of these problems. Time-dependent density functional  theory (TDDFT) theory is one such framework. At the heart of TDDFT is the energy density functional (EDF) which encodes the nucleon-nucleon interaction as a functional of various nuclear densities coupled by a set of parameters that solely defines the properties of the nuclear system and its dynamics. Our work focuses on utilizing this microscopic framework to study low-energy nuclear reactions involving exotic neutron-rich nuclei, hot and cold fusion reactions leading to the formation of superheavy elements (SHE), nuclear astrophysics applications, multi-nucleon transfer reactions to produce neutron-rich nuclei, and computational undertakings to expand our capabilities. Prof. Umar is an author of many of the TDDFT codes used worldwide.

Current projects include:

  • investigation of shell effects in quasifission and relation to fission
  • reactions important for superheavy element research
  • reactions important for astrophysics and properties of neutron-rich nuclei


Dr. Sait A. Umar is a Professor of Physics and Vanderbilt University. He has joined Vanderbilt in 1986. Prof. Umar has been funded by the Department of Energy continuously since 1987. He has mentored a number of Ph.D. students who have been very successful in the academic community. He regularly serves in the advisory committees of international conferences and is a frequent lecturer at international conferences. He has created the course on Computational Physics and Mathematical Methods.