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Nucleon Structure

Physics program > Nucleon Structure

The understanding of the inner basic structure of matter and the quest for the ultimate constituents has always been one of the driving motivations of fundamental research and, in general, of human curiosity. The exploration of the internal composition of nucleons protons and neutrons which form the overwhelming majority of all observed matter in the universe, has undergone enormous progress and recent exciting developments. Nucleons themselves are composed of more basic constituents called quarks, which are bound together by the exchange of gluons. The theory describing the fundamental properties and the dynamics of these constituents is Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). Among the most intriguing aspects of QCD is the relation between its basic degrees of freedom, quarks and gluons, and the observable physical states, i.e. hadrons such as the proton. The most prominent quantities that describe these relations are the universal parton distribution functions (PDFs), which appear in completely different hard processes in factorised expressions. Most of our knowledge about the nucleon comes from lepton-nucleon scattering, where the high-energy lepton provides a clean probe of nucleon structure with resolution much smaller than the nucleon size.

Over the last decade, new theoretical tools have been developed, which enable remarkable tomographic images of the quarks and gluons inside the nucleon. The Jefferson Lab at 12 GeV aims for studying these new tools, the so-called GPDs (Generalized Parton Distributions) and TMDs (Transverse Momentum Dependent) distributions, with unprecedented precision.  

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