Boson

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In particle physics
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

, bosons are subatomic particle
Subatomic particle
In physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...

s that obey Bose–Einstein statistics
Bose–Einstein statistics
In statistical mechanics, Bose–Einstein statistics determines the statistical distribution of identical indistinguishable bosons over the energy states in thermal equilibrium.-Concept:...

. Several bosons can occupy the same quantum state. The word boson derives from the name of Satyendra Nath Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose FRS was an Indian mathematician and physicist noted for his collaboration with Albert Einstein in developing a theory regarding the gaslike qualities of electromagnetic radiation. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation...

.

Bosons contrast with fermion
Fermion
In particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....

s, which obey Fermi–Dirac statistics. Two or more fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state
Pauli exclusion principle
The Pauli exclusion principle is the quantum mechanical principle that no two identical fermions may occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. A more rigorous statement is that the total wave function for two identical fermions is anti-symmetric with respect to exchange of the particles...

.

Since bosons with the same energy can occupy the same place in space, bosons are often force carrier
Force carrier
In particle physics, quantum field theories such as the Standard Model describe nature in terms of fields. Each field has a complementary description as the set of particles of a particular type...

 particles. In contrast, fermion
Fermion
In particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....

s are usually associated with matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

 (although in quantum physics the distinction between the two concepts is not clear cut).

Bosons may be either elementary
Elementary particle
In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a particle not known to have substructure; that is, it is not known to be made up of smaller particles. If an elementary particle truly has no substructure, then it is one of the basic building blocks of the universe from which...

, like photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

s, or composite, like meson
Meson
In particle physics, mesons are subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction. Because mesons are composed of sub-particles, they have a physical size, with a radius roughly one femtometer: 10−15 m, which is about the size of a proton...

s. Some composite bosons do not satisfy the criteria for Bose-Einstein statistics and are not truly bosons (e.g. helium-4
Helium-4
Helium-4 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium. It is by far the most abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on earth. Its nucleus is the same as an alpha particle, consisting of two protons and two neutrons. Alpha decay of heavy...

 atoms); a more accurate term for such composite particles would be "bosonic-composites".

All observed bosons have integer
Integer
The integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the non-zero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...

 spin
Spin (physics)
In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

, as opposed to fermions, which have half-integer
Half-integer
In mathematics, a half-integer is a number of the formn + 1/2,where n is an integer. For example,are all half-integers. Note that a half of an integer is not always a half-integer: half of an even integer is an integer but not a half-integer...

 spin. This is in accordance with the spin-statistics theorem
Spin-statistics theorem
In quantum mechanics, the spin-statistics theorem relates the spin of a particle to the particle statistics it obeys. The spin of a particle is its intrinsic angular momentum...

 which states that in any reasonable relativistic
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

 quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

, particles with integer spin are bosons, while particles with half-integer spin are fermions.

While most bosons are composite particles, in the Standard Model
Standard Model
The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...

, there are six bosons which are elementary:
  • the four gauge boson
    Gauge boson
    In particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles.-...

    s ( · · · )
  • the Higgs boson
    Higgs boson
    The Higgs boson is a hypothetical massive elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. Its existence is postulated as a means of resolving inconsistencies in the Standard Model...

     
  • the Graviton
    Graviton
    In physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...

     (G
    Graviton
    In physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...

    )


Unlike the gauge bosons, the Higgs boson and Graviton have not yet been observed experimentally.

Composite bosons are important in superfluidity and other applications of Bose–Einstein condensate
Bose–Einstein condensate
A Bose–Einstein condensate is a state of matter of a dilute gas of weakly interacting bosons confined in an external potential and cooled to temperatures very near absolute zero . Under such conditions, a large fraction of the bosons occupy the lowest quantum state of the external potential, at...

s.

Definition and basic properties


By definition, bosons are particles which obey Bose–Einstein statistics
Bose–Einstein statistics
In statistical mechanics, Bose–Einstein statistics determines the statistical distribution of identical indistinguishable bosons over the energy states in thermal equilibrium.-Concept:...

: when one swaps two bosons, the wavefunction
Wavefunction
Not to be confused with the related concept of the Wave equationA wave function or wavefunction is a probability amplitude in quantum mechanics describing the quantum state of a particle and how it behaves. Typically, its values are complex numbers and, for a single particle, it is a function of...

 of the system is unchanged. Fermions, on the other hand, obey Fermi–Dirac statistics and the Pauli exclusion principle
Pauli exclusion principle
The Pauli exclusion principle is the quantum mechanical principle that no two identical fermions may occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. A more rigorous statement is that the total wave function for two identical fermions is anti-symmetric with respect to exchange of the particles...

: two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state, resulting in a "rigidity" or "stiffness" of matter which includes fermions. Thus fermions are sometimes said to be the constituents of matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

, while bosons are said to be the particles that transmit interactions (force carrier
Force carrier
In particle physics, quantum field theories such as the Standard Model describe nature in terms of fields. Each field has a complementary description as the set of particles of a particular type...

s), or the constituents of radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

. The quantum fields of bosons are bosonic field
Bosonic field
In quantum field theory, a bosonic field is a quantum field whose quanta are bosons; that is, they obey Bose-Einstein statistics. Bosonic fields obey canonical commutation relations, as distinct from the canonical anticommutation relations obeyed by fermionic fields.Examples include scalar fields,...

s, obeying canonical commutation relation
Canonical commutation relation
In physics, the canonical commutation relation is the relation between canonical conjugate quantities , for example:[x,p_x] = i\hbar...

s.

The properties of laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

s and masers, superfluid
Superfluid
Superfluidity is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid without viscosity and with extremely high thermal conductivity. The substance, which appears to be a normal liquid, will flow without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and...

 helium-4
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

 and Bose–Einstein condensate
Bose–Einstein condensate
A Bose–Einstein condensate is a state of matter of a dilute gas of weakly interacting bosons confined in an external potential and cooled to temperatures very near absolute zero . Under such conditions, a large fraction of the bosons occupy the lowest quantum state of the external potential, at...

s are all consequences of statistics of bosons. Another result is that the spectrum of a photon gas in thermal equilibrium is a Planck spectrum, one example of which is black-body radiation; another is the thermal radiation of the opaque early Universe seen today as microwave background radiation.
Interactions between elementary particles are called fundamental interaction
Fundamental interaction
In particle physics, fundamental interactions are the ways that elementary particles interact with one another...

s. The fundamental interactions of virtual
Virtual particle
In physics, a virtual particle is a particle that exists for a limited time and space. The energy and momentum of a virtual particle are uncertain according to the uncertainty principle...

 bosons with real particles result in all force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

s we know.

All known elementary and composite particles are bosons or fermions, depending on their spin
Spin (physics)
In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

: particles with half-integer
Half-integer
In mathematics, a half-integer is a number of the formn + 1/2,where n is an integer. For example,are all half-integers. Note that a half of an integer is not always a half-integer: half of an even integer is an integer but not a half-integer...

 spin are fermions; particles with integer
Integer
The integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the non-zero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...

 spin are bosons. In the framework of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, this is a purely empirical observation. However, in relativistic
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

 quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

, the spin-statistics theorem
Spin-statistics theorem
In quantum mechanics, the spin-statistics theorem relates the spin of a particle to the particle statistics it obeys. The spin of a particle is its intrinsic angular momentum...

 shows that half-integer spin particles cannot be bosons and integer spin particles cannot be fermions.

In large systems, the difference between bosonic and fermionic statistics is only apparent at large densities—when their wave functions overlap. At low densities, both types of statistics are well approximated by Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics, which is described by classical mechanics
Classical mechanics
In physics, classical mechanics is one of the two major sub-fields of mechanics, which is concerned with the set of physical laws describing the motion of bodies under the action of a system of forces...

.

Elementary bosons


All observed elementary particle
Elementary particle
In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a particle not known to have substructure; that is, it is not known to be made up of smaller particles. If an elementary particle truly has no substructure, then it is one of the basic building blocks of the universe from which...

s are either fermions or bosons. The observed elementary
Elementary particle
In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a particle not known to have substructure; that is, it is not known to be made up of smaller particles. If an elementary particle truly has no substructure, then it is one of the basic building blocks of the universe from which...

 bosons are all gauge boson
Gauge boson
In particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles.-...

s: photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

s, W and Z bosons
W and Z bosons
The W and Z bosons are the elementary particles that mediate the weak interaction; their symbols are , and . The W bosons have a positive and negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge respectively and are each other's antiparticle. The Z boson is electrically neutral and its own...

 and gluon
Gluon
Gluons are elementary particles which act as the exchange particles for the color force between quarks, analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles....

s.
  • Photons are the force carrier
    Force carrier
    In particle physics, quantum field theories such as the Standard Model describe nature in terms of fields. Each field has a complementary description as the set of particles of a particular type...

    s of the electromagnetic field
    Electromagnetic field
    An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by moving electrically charged objects. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction...

    .
  • W and Z bosons are the force carriers which mediate the weak force
    Weak interaction
    Weak interaction , is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars...

    .
  • Gluons are the fundamental force carriers underlying the strong force.


In addition, the standard model postulates the existence of Higgs boson
Higgs boson
The Higgs boson is a hypothetical massive elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. Its existence is postulated as a means of resolving inconsistencies in the Standard Model...

s, which give other particles their mass via the Higgs mechanism
Higgs mechanism
In particle physics, the Higgs mechanism is the process in which gauge bosons in a gauge theory can acquire non-vanishing masses through absorption of Nambu-Goldstone bosons arising in spontaneous symmetry breaking....

.

Finally, many approaches to quantum gravity postulate a force carrier for gravity, the graviton
Graviton
In physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2...

, which is a boson of spin 2.

Composite bosons


Composite particles (such as hadron
Hadron
In particle physics, a hadron is a composite particle made of quarks held together by the strong force...

s, nuclei
Atomic nucleus
The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

, and atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s) can be bosons or fermions depending on their constituents. More precisely, because of the relation between spin and statistics, a particle containing an even number of fermions is a boson, since it has integer
Integer
The integers are formed by the natural numbers together with the negatives of the non-zero natural numbers .They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively...

 spin.

Examples include the following:
  • Any meson
    Meson
    In particle physics, mesons are subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction. Because mesons are composed of sub-particles, they have a physical size, with a radius roughly one femtometer: 10−15 m, which is about the size of a proton...

    , since mesons contain one quark
    Quark
    A quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly...

     and one antiquark
  • The nucleus
    Atomic nucleus
    The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

     of a carbon-12
    Carbon-12
    Carbon-12 is the more abundant of the two stable isotopes of the element carbon, accounting for 98.89% of carbon; it contains 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons....

     atom, which contains 6 protons and 6 neutrons
  • The helium-4
    Helium-4
    Helium-4 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium. It is by far the most abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on earth. Its nucleus is the same as an alpha particle, consisting of two protons and two neutrons. Alpha decay of heavy...

     atom, consisting of 2 protons, 2 neutrons and 2 electrons


The number of bosons within a composite particle made up of simple particles bound with a potential has no effect on whether it is a boson or a fermion.

Fermionic or bosonic behavior of a composite particle (or system) is only seen at large (compared to size of the system) distance. At proximity, where spatial structure begins to be important, a composite particle (or system) behaves according to its constituent makeup. For example, two atoms of helium-4
Helium-4
Helium-4 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium. It is by far the most abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on earth. Its nucleus is the same as an alpha particle, consisting of two protons and two neutrons. Alpha decay of heavy...

 cannot share the same space if it is comparable in size to that of the inner structure of the helium atom itself (~10−10 m)—despite bosonic properties of the helium-4
Helium-4
Helium-4 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium. It is by far the most abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on earth. Its nucleus is the same as an alpha particle, consisting of two protons and two neutrons. Alpha decay of heavy...

 atoms. Thus, liquid helium has finite density comparable to the density of ordinary liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 matter.

See also

  • Fermion
    Fermion
    In particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....

  • Bosonic field
    Bosonic field
    In quantum field theory, a bosonic field is a quantum field whose quanta are bosons; that is, they obey Bose-Einstein statistics. Bosonic fields obey canonical commutation relations, as distinct from the canonical anticommutation relations obeyed by fermionic fields.Examples include scalar fields,...

  • Identical particles
    Identical particles
    Identical particles, or indistinguishable particles, are particles that cannot be distinguished from one another, even in principle. Species of identical particles include elementary particles such as electrons, and, with some clauses, composite particles such as atoms and molecules.There are two...

  • Parastatistics
    Parastatistics
    In quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics, parastatistics is one of several alternatives to the better known particle statistics models...

  • Anyon
    Anyon
    In physics, an anyon is a type of particle that occurs only in two-dimensional systems. It is a generalization of the fermion and boson concept.-From theory to reality:...

  • Bose gas
    Bose gas
    An ideal Bose gas is a quantum-mechanical version of a classical ideal gas. It is composed of bosons, which have an integer value of spin, and obey Bose–Einstein statistics...

  • Superfluid
    Superfluid
    Superfluidity is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid without viscosity and with extremely high thermal conductivity. The substance, which appears to be a normal liquid, will flow without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and...

  • Satyendra Nath Bose
    Satyendra Nath Bose
    Satyendra Nath Bose FRS was an Indian mathematician and physicist noted for his collaboration with Albert Einstein in developing a theory regarding the gaslike qualities of electromagnetic radiation. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation...