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The β decays of neutron-rich nuclei near the doubly magic Ni78 were studied at the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility using an electromagnetic isobar separator. The half-lives of Zn82 (228±10ms), Zn83 (117±20ms), and Ga85 (93±7ms) were determined for the first time. These half-lives were found to be very different from the predictions of the global model used in astrophysical simulations. A new calculation was developed using the density functional model, which properly reproduced the new experimental values. The robustness of the new model in the Ni78 region allowed us to extrapolate data for more neutron-rich isotopes. The revised analysis of the rapid neutron capture process in low entropy environments with our new set of measured and calculated half-lives shows a significant redistribution of predicted isobaric abundances strengthening the yield of A>140 nuclei. © 2012 American Physical Society.

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Physical Review Letters