Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Neutral current

Neutral current

Ask a question about 'Neutral current'
Start a new discussion about 'Neutral current'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Weak neutral current interactions are one of the ways in which 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 can interact by means of the weak force. These interactions are mediated by the boson
In particle physics, bosons are subatomic particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics. Several bosons can occupy the same quantum state. The word boson derives from the name of Satyendra Nath Bose....

. The discovery of weak neutral currents was a significant step toward the unification of electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 and the weak force into the electroweak force, and led to the discovery of the 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...



The neutral current that gives the interaction its name is that of the interacting particles. For example, the neutral-current contribution to the → elastic scattering amplitude
where the neutral currents describing the flow of the neutrino and of the electron are given by
and and are the vector
Coordinate vector
In linear algebra, a coordinate vector is an explicit representation of a vector in an abstract vector space as an ordered list of numbers or, equivalently, as an element of the coordinate space Fn....

 and axial vector couplings for fermion
In particle physics, a fermion is any particle which obeys the Fermi–Dirac statistics . Fermions contrast with bosons which obey Bose–Einstein statistics....


The boson can couple to any Standard Model particle, except gluons and photons. However, any interaction between two charged particles that can occur via the exchange of a virtual boson can also occur via the exchange of a virtual 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...

. Unless the interacting particles have energies on the order of the boson mass (91 GeV) or higher, the virtual boson exchange has an effect of a tiny correction ( ) to the amplitude of the electromagnetic process. Particle accelerators with energies necessary to observe neutral current interactions and to measure the mass of boson weren't available until 1983.

On the other hand, boson interactions involving neutrino
A neutrino is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle with a half-integer spin, chirality and a disputed but small non-zero mass. It is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected...

s have distinctive signatures: They provide the only known mechanism for elastic scattering
Elastic scattering
In scattering theory and in particular in particle physics, elastic scattering is one of the specific forms of scattering. In this process, the kinetic energy of the incident particles is conserved, only their direction of propagation is modified .-Electron elastic scattering:When an alpha particle...

 of neutrinos in matter; neutrinos are almost as likely to scatter elastically (via boson exchange) as inelastically (via boson exchange). Weak neutral currents were predicted in 1973 by Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam
Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk (Urdu: محمد عبد السلام, pronounced , (January 29, 1926– November 21, 1996) was a Pakistani theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his work on the electroweak unification of the...

, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles....

, and confirmed shortly thereafter in 1974, in a neutrino experiment in the Gargamelle
Gargamelle was a giant bubble chamber detector at CERN, designed mainly for the detection of neutrino interactions. Built in France, with a diameter of nearly 2 meters and 4.8 meters in length, Gargamelle held nearly 12 cubic meters of freon...

 bubble chamber
Bubble chamber
A bubble chamber is a vessel filled with a superheated transparent liquid used to detect electrically charged particles moving through it. It was invented in 1952 by Donald A. Glaser, for which he was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physics...

 at CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...


See also

  • Charged current
    Charged current
    The Charged current interaction is one of the ways in which subatomic particles can interact by means of the weak force. It is mediated by the and bosons....

  • Flavor changing neutral current
    Flavor changing neutral current
    In theoretical physics, flavor-changing neutral currents are expressions that change the flavor of a fermion current without altering its electric charge. If they occur in the Lagrangian, they may induce processes that have not been observed in experiment...

  • quantum chromodynamics
    Quantum chromodynamics
    In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of color-charged fermions...


External links