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 Prof. Nico Orce

Position: Professor
Department: Physics Programme
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Science
Qualifications: PhD, University of Brighton, UK
Research Interests: Nuclear Collectivity  and Nuclear Astrophysics
Tel: 021 959 3454
Fax: 021 959 3474
Email: or


 As a lecturer, I joined the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 2011, where I immediately kicked off developing a
Coulex program at iThemba LABS. The pipe line for these kind of measurements is now fully functioning and the first
experiments ran successfully in 2015 using 20Ne and 40Ar beams. These studies involve the determination of second-
order effects in Coulex perturbation theory, including the reorientation effect (RE), e.g., diagonal matrix elements, and
the nuclear E1 polarizability. Many other Coulex measurements are scheduled at iThemba LABS in March-April 2016.
Additional multi-step Coulomb-excitation experiments have successfully been carried out at HIE-ISOLDE (CERN) aimed
at investigating gamma bands and shape coexistence in the A~70-80 region. Furthermore, we have astronomical data
from the South African Large Telescope (SALT) to study extreme metal poor stars. I am the principal investigator of this
project, which aims at measuring abundance ratios of heavy metals. The results will indicate whether the first elements
were created in either the rapid-neutron process or the slow-neutron process. In 2013 I was promoted to Associate
Professor and I’m currently Full Professor since 2017.
Retrospectively, my work has evolved towards a broad understanding of nuclear structure physics from experiments and
theoretical calculations throughout the nuclear chart, from spherical to deformed nuclei, from low- to high-spin
phenomena, from the neutron to lead. The most important achievements are explained in the “Brief Description of
Completed Research” section. Some 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings with
about 650 citations (h-index = 15) describe my work for the last eight years. Online access to publications can be found
in Google Scholar Citations:

Other personal achievements during the last 5 years at UWC account for the Chair of the Physics Users at iThemba
LABS, Chair of the GAMKA (Gamma-ray spectrometer for Knowledge in Africa), Representative of Research Science
Committee and Chair of the Research Open Day (where we invited the Nobel Laureate in Physics, Serge Haroche) at
UWC, member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) at iThemba LABS and Chair of the celebrated Tastes of
Nuclear Physics. I have been a referee for the Physical Review C, Journal of Physics G and South African Institute of
Physics journals. Awards received by the NRF/DST include the first SaRchi Chair in Nuclear Science (Smarajit
Triambak, UWC/iThemba LABS), Competitive Rated Researchers Grant (R800,000) and Strategic Research Funding
(GAMKA, R35M)."It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the
holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be
promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."


Peer-Reviewed Publications (from 2010)

  • J. N. Orce, JD Holt, A Linnemann, CJ McKay, C Fransen, J Jolie, TTS Kuo, SR Lesher, MT McEllistrem,         N Pietralla, N Warr, V Werner, SW Yates, Fermionic-bosonic couplings in a weakly deformed odd-mass nucleus, 93Nb, Physical Review C 82, 044317 (2010) [11 pages]. 

  • C Aa Diget, SP Fox, A Smith, S Williams, M Porter-Peden, L Achouri, P Adsley, H Al-Falou, RAE Austin,     GC Ball, JC Blackmon, S Brown, WN Catford, AA Chen, J Chen, RM Churchman, J Dech, D Di Valentino,     M Djongolov, BR Fulton, A Garnsworthy, G Hackman, U Hager, R Kshetri, L Kurchaninov, AM Laird, J-P Martin, M Matos, J.N. Orce, NA Orr, CJ Pearson, C Ruiz, F Sarazin, S Sjue, D Smalley, CE Svensson,          M Taggart, E Tardiff, GL Wilson, Journal of Instrumentation 6 P02005 (2011) [11 pages]. 

  • DS Cross, GC Ball, PE Garrett, S Triambak, SJ Williams, C Andreoiu, R Churchman, AB Garnsworthy, G Hackman, JR Leslie, J. N. Orce, CS Sumithrarachchi, CE Svensson, Commissioning the DANTE array of BaF2 detectors at TRIUMF-ISAC using a fast-timing lifetime measurement, Journal of Instrumentation 6 P08008 (2011)  [9 pages]. 

  • A.Chakraborty, J.N.Orce, S.F.Ashley, B.A.Brown, B.P.Crider, E.Elhami, M.T.McEllistrem, S.Mukhopadhyay, E.E.Peters, B.Singh, S.W.Yates, Status of vibrational structure in 62Ni, Physical Review C 83, 034316 (2011) [11 pages].

  • PE Garrett, KL Green, J Bangay, A Diaz Varela, CS Sumithrarachchi, RAE Austin, GC Ball, DS Bandyopadhyay, L Bianco, S Colosimo, DS Cross, GA Demand, P Finlay, AB Garnsworthy, GF Grinyer, G Hackman, WD Kulp, KG Leach, AC Morton, JN Orce, CJ Pearson, AA Phillips, MA Schumaker, CE Svensson, S Triambak, J Wong, JL Wood, SW Yates, Mapping quadrupole collectivity in the Cd isotopes: The breakdown of harmonic vibrational motion, AIP Conference Proceedings 1377, 211-215 (2011) [4 pages].

  • GL Wilson, WN Catford, C Aa Diget, NA Orr, P Adsley, H Al-Falou, R Ashley, RAE Austin, GC Ball, JC Blackmon, AJ Boston, HJ Boston, SM Brown,  RM Churchman, DS Cross, J Dech, M Djongolov, TE Drake, U Hager, SP Fox, BR Fulton, N Galinski, AB Garnsworthy, G Hackman, D Jamieson, R Kanungo, K Leach, JP Martin, J. N. Orce, CJ Pearson, M Porter-Peden, F Sarazin, S Sjue, C Sumithrarachchi, CE Svensson, S Triambak, C Unsworth, R Wadsworth, SJ Williams, Towards 26Na via (d, p) with SHARC and TIGRESS and a novel zero-degree detector, J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 381 012097 (2012) [6 pages].

  • S.Triambak, P.Finlay, C.S.Sumithrarachchi, G.Hackman, G.C.Ball, P.E.Garrett, C.E.Svensson, D.S.Cross, A.B.Garnsworthy, R.Kshetri, J. N. Orce, M.R.Pearson, E.R.Tardiff, H.Al Falou, R.A.E.Austin, R.Churchman, M.K.Djongolov, R.D'Entremont, C.Kierans, L.Milovanovic, S.O'Hagan, S.Reeve, S.K.L.Sjue, S.J.Williams, High-Precision Measurement of the 19Ne Half-Life and Implications for Right-Handed Weak Currents, Physical Review Letters 109, 042301 (2012) [4 pages]. 

  • P.E.Garrett, J.Bangay, A.Diaz Varela, G.C.Ball, D.S.Cross, G.A.Demand, P.Finlay, A.B.Garnsworthy, K.L.Green, G.Hackman, C.D.Hannant, B.Jigmeddorj, J.Jolie, W.D.Kulp, K.G.Leach, J.N.Orce, A.A.Phillips, A.J.Radich, E.T.Rand, M.A.Schumaker, C.E.Svensson, C.Sumithrarachchi, S.Triambak, N.Warr, J.Wong, J.L.Wood, S.W.Yates, Detailed spectroscopy of 110Cd: Evidence for weak mixing and the emergence of γ-soft behavior, Physical Review C 86, 044304 (2012) [9 pages]. 

  • A.Chakraborty, F.M.Prados-Estevez, S.N.Choudry, B.P.Crider, P.E.Garrett, W.D.Kulp, A.Kumar,  M.T.McEllistrem, S.Mukhopadhyay, M.G.Mynk, J. N. Orce, E.E.Peters, J.L.Wood, S.W.Yates

  • New decay pattern of negative-parity states at N=90, Physical Review C 86, 064314 (2012) [6 pages]. 

  • J. N. Orce, TE Drake, MK Djongolov, P Navrátil, S Triambak, GC Ball, H Al Falou, R Churchman, DS Cross, P Finlay, C Forssén, AB Garnsworthy, PE Garrett, G Hackman, AB Hayes, R Kshetri, J Lassen, KG Leach, R Li, J Meissner, CJ Pearson, ET Rand, F Sarazin, SKL Sjue, MA Stoyer, CS Sumithrarachchi, CE Svensson, ER Tardiff, A Teigelhoefer, SJ Williams, J Wong, CY Wu, Reorientation-effect measurement of the                    〈2+ ll E2 ll 2+⟩ matrix element in 10Be, Phys. Rev. C 86, 041303(R) (2012)  (2012) [5 pages].

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