Analyzing matter’s building blocks


JSA/Jefferson Lab’s Nathan Isgur Fellow in Nuclear Theory, Nobuo Sato, is developing a ‘FemtoAnalyzer’ with a new grant from the Department of Energy


Credit: DOE’s Jefferson Lab

Nobuo Sato is working to put the know in femto. He’s just been awarded a five-year, multimillion dollar research grant by the Department of Energy to develop a “FemtoAnalyzer” that will help nuclear physicists image the three-dimensional internal structure of protons and neutrons.

Sato is currently based at the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. Late last year, he began a three-year appointment as the JSA/Jefferson Lab Nathan Isgur Fellow in Nuclear Theory to focus on understanding the building blocks of everyday matter at the femtoscale. Protons and neutrons inside the atom’s nucleus, which measure less than one quadrillionth of a meter across, exist at this scale.
Now, Sato is among 76 scientists nationwide who have been awarded a grant through the DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program to pursue their research. The effort, now in its 11th year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.
Sato will receive a grant for at least $500,000 per year for five years to cover salary and research expenses.
According to the award citation, Sato’s project “integrates modern developments in nuclear theory, data handling and artificial intelligence to develop the most advanced theoretical and phenomenological tools to visualize the internal landscape of nucleons and nuclei with unprecedented resolution.”
The goal of the project is to produce a “FemtoAnalyzer” to assimilate information on the three-dimensional structure of nucleons and nuclei by using the latest cutting-edge theoretical tools to analyze the precise and massive data from Jefferson Lab and facilities worldwide. In the end, it’s hoped that this “FemtoAnalyzer” will help nuclear physicists form the best pictures yet of the three-dimensional internal structure and dynamics of the protons and neutrons that build our visible universe.

Read more about Sato’s research here.
Grants awarded through DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program are geared toward researchers who have received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years and who are pursuing a research topic that falls within one of the six major program offices within DOE’s Office of Science. Sato’s research was selected for funding by the Office of Nuclear Physics.
Further Reading:

Department of Energy Selects 76 Scientists to Receive Early Career Research Program Funding

Theorist Takes Aim at the Makeup of Matter

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, a joint venture of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. and PAE, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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