Exploring the Nature of Matter
Plans and proposals for the next, great physics machine for studying the intrinsic bits of everyday matter are starting to form. The proposed Electron-Ion Collider could ensure that the cutting-edge science that has kept Jefferson Lab and the United States at the frontier of nuclear physics research for 25 years will continue for decades to come.
The EIC would accelerate electrons on one side and protons or ions on the other to nearly the speed of light before slamming the two streams of particles together. These collisions would allow scientists to probe deep inside the particles that comprise the nucleus of the atom to discover the hidden workings of nature that are responsible for all visible matter. An EIC could provide unique capabilities in the study of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory that describes how quarks and gluons build protons, neutrons and nuclei.
In October 2015, the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee provided its recommendations on future priorities for the field of nuclear physics, including a long-range plan recommendation to build an EIC. Jefferson Lab is one of two Department of Energy national laboratories developing plans to host the facility.