Li, T.; Chen, M. Z.; Zhang, C. L.; Nazarewicz, W.; Kortelainen, M.
(2020)
Background: An electron localization function was originally introduced to visualize in positional space bond structures in molecules. It became a useful tool to describe electron configurations in atoms, molecules, and solids. In nuclear physics, a nucleon localization function (NLF) has been used to characterize cluster structures in light nuclei, formation of fragments in fission, and pasta phases appearing in the inner crust of neutron stars. Purpose: We use the NLF to study the nuclear response to fast rotation. Methods: We generalize the NLF to the case of nuclear rotation. The extended expressions involve both timeeven and time-odd local particle and spin densities and currents. Since the current density and density gradient contribute to the NLF primarily at the surface, we propose a simpler spatial measure given by the kinetic-energy density. Illustrative calculations for the superdeformed yrast band of Dy-152 were carried out by using the cranked Skyrme-Hartree-Fock method. We also employed the cranked harmonic-oscillator model to gain insights into spatial patterns revealed by the NLF at high angular momentum. Results: In the case of a deformed rotating nucleus, several NLFs can be introduced, depending on the definition of the spin-quantization axis, direction of the total angular momentum, and self-consistent symmetries of the system. Contributions to the NLF from the current density, spin-current tensor density, and density gradient terms are negligible in the nuclear interior. The oscillating pattern of the simplified NLF can be explained in terms of a constructive interference between kinetic-energy and particle densities. The characteristic nodal pattern seen in the NLF in the direction of major axis of a rotating nucleus comes from single-particle orbits carrying large aligned angular momentum. The variation of the NLF along the minor axis of the nucleus can be traced back to deformation-aligned orbits. Conclusions: The NLF allows a simple interpretation of the shell structure evolution in the rotating nucleus in terms of the angular-momentum alignment of individual nucleons. We expect that the NLF will be very useful for the characterization and visualization of other collective modes in nuclei and time-dependent processes.