The Electron-Ion-Collider to be built at Brookhaven National Lab – Duke Faculty helped pave the way!

Monday, January 27, 2020

The positive decision by the Department of Energy for the construction of the EIC is a great step forward for the field of nuclear physics. This new facility will give unprecedented insight into the dynamics that are responsible for much of the properties of the visible mass. It will provide much deeper insight into the building blocks of matter than ever before with the potential for transformative discoveries.

Researchers at Duke, in particular Professors Haiyan Gao, Berndt Mueller and Anselm Vossen, have been deeply involved in the proposal and planning stages of this new facility and have made significant contributions to the exciting physics case for the EIC leaning on their experience from the analysis of the first data from the upgraded Jefferson Lab facility and on the outcomes of the RHIC program at Brookhaven Lab.

Prof. Gao and her group have been involved in the development of the EIC science for many years now, especially in the area of probing the confined motion of the quarks and gluons inside the nucleon by three-dimensional imaging of the nucleon structure in the momentum space through the semi-inclusive deep inelastic scattering process. The published studies of this physics in the EIC whitepaper came from her group, and Prof. Gao was also a writing committee member for the whitepaper.  In 2011, Prof. Gao chaired and hosted an EIC physics workshop at Duke University on ``Workshop on partonic transverse momentum in hadrons: quark spin-orbit correlations and quark-gluon interactions" in March 2010, which led to a publication titled ``Transverse-momentum–dependent partondistribution/fragmentation functions at an electron-ion collider". This workshop was one of the EIC physics workshops sponsored by the Jefferson Lab Users Group Board of Directors. In 2017-2018, Prof. Gao also served on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Assessment Committee of a US-based Electron-Ion-Collider, which led to a NAS report released in July 2018 on "An Assessment of U.S.-Based Electron-Ion Collider Science".  Dr. Zhiwen Zhao, a research scientist in Prof. Gao's group has also been active in the EIC detector R&D activities focusing on particle identifications.

Prof. Berndt Mueller has been serving as Brookhaven Lab’s Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics since 2013 – it was under his leadership that Brookhaven developed the physics case and facility proposal that built on Brookhaven’s world leading infrastructure – the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider – and the lab’s deep expertise in accelerator science and detector technology. The cost-effective, low-risk, and versatile proposal developed by Brookhaven underpinned the DOE’s decision to construct the EIC at Brookhaven Lab.

Prof. Vossen’s group has been very active in the analysis of the first data of the upgraded Jefferson Lab facility and will utilize those results for the formulation of a compelling physics case for the EIC. The group is planning an exciting research program for this new facility, and we expect Prof. Vossen to take on a leadership role in this science as the EIC gets constructed and commissioned.

Photo: The Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Credit: BNL