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We develop for the first time a microscopic global nucleon-nucleus optical potential with quantified uncertainties suitable for analyzing nuclear reaction experiments at next-generation rare-isotope beam facilities. Within the improved local density approximation and without any adjustable parameters, we begin by computing proton-nucleus and neutron-nucleus optical potentials from a set of five nuclear forces from chiral effective field theory for 1800 target nuclei in the mass range 12≤A≤242 for energies between 0 MeV<E≲150 MeV. We then parameterize a global optical potential for each chiral force that depends smoothly on the projectile energy as well as the target nucleus mass number and isospin asymmetry. Uncertainty bands for elastic scattering observables are generated from a full covariance analysis of the parameters entering in the description of our global optical potential and benchmarked against existing experimental data for stable target nuclei. Since our approach is purely microscopic, we anticipate a similar quality of the model for nucleon scattering on unstable isotopes.

We formulate microscopic neutron-nucleus optical potentials from many-body perturbation theory based on chiral two- and three-body forces. The neutron self-energy is first calculated in homogeneous matter to second order in perturbation theory, which gives the central real and imaginary terms of the optical potential. The real spin-orbit term is calculated separately from the density matrix expansion using the same chiral interaction as in the self-energy. Finally, the full neutronnucleus optical potential is derived within the improved local density approximation utilizing mean field models consistent with the chiral nuclear force employed. We compare the results of the microscopic calculations to phenomenological models and experimental data up to projectile energies of E = 200 MeV. Experimental elastic differential scattering cross sections and vector analyzing powers are generally well reproduced by the chiral optical potential, but we find that total cross sections are overestimated at high energies.

We formulate microscopic optical potentials for nucleon-nucleus scattering from chiral two- and three-nucleon forces. The real and imaginary central terms of the optical potentials are obtained from the nucleon self energy in infinite nuclear matter at a given density and isospin asymmetry, calculated self-consistently to second order in many-body perturbation theory. The real spin-orbit term is extracted from the same chiral potential using an improved density matrix expansion. The densitydependent optical potential is then folded with the nuclear density distributions of 40,42,44,48Ca from which we study proton-nucleus elastic scattering and total reaction cross sections using the reaction code TALYS. We compare the results of the microscopic calculations to those of phenomenological models and experimental data up to projectile energies of E = 180 MeV. While overall satisfactory agreement with the available experimental data is obtained, we find that the elastic scattering and total reaction cross sections can be significantly improved with a weaker imaginary optical potential, particularly for larger projectile energies.