Scientists have been rigorously commissioning the experimental equipment to prepare for a new era of nuclear physics experiments at the newly upgraded Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Va. These activities have already led to the first scientific result, which demonstrates the feasibility of detecting a potential new form of matter.

After decades of catching brief glimpses of a fleeting subatomic particle called the sigma in experimental data, nuclear physicists have used supercomputers to calculate it, with the result displaying similar properties to that of a real-world sigma particle inferred from experimental data.

When an energetic electron beam strikes matter, it produces photons, or packets of light, that can further convert their energy into pairs of an electron and a positron, the anti-particle twin to the electron. Researchers demonstrated that if the original electron beam is polarized (electrons “spin” in one direction), this polarization can be transferred to the positrons with nearly 100 percent efficiency.

Scientists have capitalized on the core technology that powers CEBAF to develop and license a process to fabricate high-quality nanotubes from boron nitride

Physicists measured how often an electron exchanges two virtual photons as compared to one virtual photon.

Researchers found that when enough energy is provided for a single pair of up, down, or strange quarks, the new particles are far more likely to be made of the proton’s primary quarks (up/anti-up or down/anti-down) than of strange quarks, the next most-prolific quark found in nature.