Challenging moments in nuclear structure.
Understanding the structure of atomic nuclei, from the deuteron to the super-heavy elements, is one of the greatest challenges of modern nuclear physics. In a broader context, the knowledge of nuclear structure is a key ingredient to achieve a comprehensive microscopic description not only of nuclear systems, but also of extended nuclear astrophysical phenomena, as well as nuclear reactions and decays. Experimental breakthroughs with high-intensity stable beams and newly available exotic isotopes, novel theoretical concepts, and fast progresses in computer technologies and numerical algorithms, make nuclear structure a modern and lively research field. Exciting prospects span from fundamental physics to a large variety of societal applications, including medicine and energy productions. In this presentation, the impact of high-precision gamma and particle spectroscopy in investigating the structure of atomic nuclei will be discussed, aiming at shedding light on fundamental properties of the strong force. We will focus on the important scientific and technical advances which are presently being made with the development of state-of-the-art spectrometers, as, for example, the European AGATA gamma-tracking array which is currently operational at the Legnaro National Laboratory of INFN.