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Bosons form one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particle, the other being fermions. All subatomic particles must be one or the other. A composite particle (hadron) may fall into either class depending on its composition Bosons-Hadrons-Fermions-RGB.svg
Bosons form one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particle, the other being fermions. All subatomic particles must be one or the other. A composite particle (hadron) may fall into either class depending on its composition

In particle physics, a boson ( /ˈbzɒn/ [1] /ˈbsɒn/ [2] ) is a subatomic particle whose spin quantum number has an integer value (0, 1, 2, ...). Bosons form one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particle, the other being fermions, which have odd half-integer spin (12, 32, 52, ...). Every observed subatomic particle is either a boson or a fermion.


Some bosons are elementary particles occupying a special role in particle physics, distinct from the role of fermions (which are sometimes described as the constituents of "ordinary matter"). Certain elementary bosons (e.g. gluons) act as force carriers, which give rise to forces between other particles, while one (the Higgs boson) gives rise to the phenomenon of mass. Other bosons, such as mesons, are composite particles made up of smaller constituents.

Outside the realm of particle physics, multiple identical composite bosons (in this context sometimes known as 'bose particles') behave at high densities or low temperatures in a characteristic manner described by Bose–Einstein statistics: for example a gas of helium-4 atoms becomes a superfluid at temperatures close to absolute zero. Similarly, superconductivity arises because some quasiparticles, such as Cooper pairs, behave in the same way.


The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac [3] [4] to commemorate the contribution of Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist and professor of physics at the University of Calcutta and at the University of Dhaka, [5] [6] who developed, in conjunction with Albert Einstein, the theory characterising such particles, now known as Bose–Einstein statistics. [7]

Elementary bosons

All observed elementary particles are either bosons (with integer spin) or fermions (with odd half-integer spin). [8] Whereas the elementary particles that make up ordinary matter (leptons and quarks) are fermions, elementary bosons occupy a special role in particle physics. They act either as force carriers which give rise to forces between other particles, or in one case give rise to the phenomenon of mass.

According to the Standard Model of Particle Physics there are five elementary bosons:

A second order tensor boson (spin = 2) called the graviton (G) has been hypothesised as the force carrier for gravity, but so far all attempts to incorporate gravity into the Standard Model have failed. [lower-alpha 1]

Composite bosons

Composite particles (such as hadrons, nuclei, and atoms) can be bosons or fermions depending on their constituents. Since bosons have integer spin and fermions odd half-integer spin, any composite particle made up of an even number of fermions is a boson.

Composite bosons include:

As quantum particles, the behaviour of multiple indistinguishable bosons at high densities is described by Bose–Einstein statistics. One characteristic which becomes important in superfluidity and other applications of Bose–Einstein condensates is that there is no restriction on the number of bosons that may occupy the same quantum state. As a consequence, when for example a gas of helium-4 atoms is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero and the kinetic energy of the particles becomes negligible, it condenses into a low-energy state and becomes a superfluid.


Certain quasiparticles are observed to behave as bosons and to follow Bose–Einstein statistics, including Cooper pairs, plasmons and phonons. [10] :130

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. Despite being the carrier of the gravitational force which interacts with mass, the graviton is expected to have no mass.
  2. Even-mass-number nuclides, which comprise 153254 = ~ 60% of all stable nuclides, are bosons, i.e. they have integer spin. Almost all (148 of the 153) are even-proton, even-neutron (EE) nuclides, which necessarily have spin 0 because of pairing. The remaining 5 stable bosonic nuclides are odd-proton, odd-neutron stable nuclides (see Even and odd atomic nuclei § Odd proton, odd neutron ); these odd–odd bosons are: 2
    , 6
    , 10
    , 14
    and 180m
    ). All have nonzero integer spin.

Related Research Articles

In physics, the fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four fundamental interactions known to exist: the gravitational and electromagnetic interactions, which produce significant long-range forces whose effects can be seen directly in everyday life, and the strong and weak interactions, which produce forces at minuscule, subatomic distances and govern nuclear interactions. Some scientists hypothesize that a fifth force might exist, but these hypotheses remain speculative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elementary particle</span> Subatomic particle having no known substructure

In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include electrons, the fundamental fermions, as well as the fundamental bosons, which generally are force particles that mediate interactions among fermions. A particle containing two or more elementary particles is a composite particle.

In particle physics, a fermion is a particle that follows Fermi–Dirac statistics. Generally, it has a half-odd-integer spin: spin 1/2, spin 3/2, etc. In addition, these particles obey the Pauli exclusion principle. Fermions include all quarks and leptons and all composite particles made of an odd number of these, such as all baryons and many atoms and nuclei. Fermions differ from bosons, which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Particle physics</span> Study of subatomic particles and forces

Particle physics or high energy physics is the study of fundamental particles and forces that constitute matter and radiation. The fundamental particles in the universe are classified in the Standard Model as fermions and bosons. There are three generations of fermions, although ordinary matter is made only from the first fermion generation. The first generation consists of up and down quarks which form protons and neutrons, and electrons and electron neutrinos. The three fundamental interactions known to be mediated by bosons are electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pauli exclusion principle</span> Quantum mechanics rule: identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously

In quantum mechanics, the Pauli exclusion principle states that two or more identical particles with half-integer spins cannot occupy the same quantum state within a quantum system simultaneously. This principle was formulated by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 for electrons, and later extended to all fermions with his spin–statistics theorem of 1940.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Weak interaction</span> Interaction between subatomic particles

In nuclear physics and particle physics, the weak interaction, which is also often called the weak force or weak nuclear force, is one of the four known fundamental interactions, with the others being electromagnetism, the strong interaction, and gravitation. It is the mechanism of interaction between subatomic particles that is responsible for the radioactive decay of atoms: The weak interaction participates in nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The theory describing its behaviour and effects is sometimes called quantum flavourdynamics (QFD); however, the term QFD is rarely used, because the weak force is better understood by electroweak theory (EWT).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Standard Model</span> Theory of forces and subatomic particles

The Standard Model of particle physics is the theory describing three of the four known fundamental forces in the universe and classifying all known elementary particles. It was developed in stages throughout the latter half of the 20th century, through the work of many scientists worldwide, with the current formulation being finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, proof of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and the Higgs boson (2012) have added further credence to the Standard Model. In addition, the Standard Model has predicted various properties of weak neutral currents and the W and Z bosons with great accuracy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Subatomic particle</span> Particle smaller than an atom

In physics, a subatomic particle is a particle smaller than an atom. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles, or an elementary particle, which is not composed of other particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact.

In particle physics, the W and Z bosons are vector bosons that are together known as the weak bosons or more generally as the intermediate vector bosons. These elementary particles mediate the weak interaction; the respective symbols are
, and
. The
 bosons have either a positive or negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge and are each other's antiparticles. The
 boson is electrically neutral and is its own antiparticle. The three particles each have a spin of 1. The
 bosons have a magnetic moment, but the
has none. All three of these particles are very short-lived, with a half-life of about 3×10−25 s. Their experimental discovery was pivotal in establishing what is now called the Standard Model of particle physics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gauge boson</span> Elementary particles that are force carriers

In particle physics, a gauge boson is a bosonic elementary particle that acts as the force carrier for elementary fermions. Elementary particles, whose interactions are described by a gauge theory, interact with each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fermionic condensate</span> State of matter

A fermionic condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. It is closely related to the Bose–Einstein condensate, a superfluid phase formed by bosonic atoms under similar conditions. The earliest recognized fermionic condensate described the state of electrons in a superconductor; the physics of other examples including recent work with fermionic atoms is analogous. The first atomic fermionic condensate was created by a team led by Deborah S. Jin using potassium-40 atoms at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003.

A chiral phenomenon is one that is not identical to its mirror image. The spin of a particle may be used to define a handedness, or helicity, for that particle, which, in the case of a massless particle, is the same as chirality. A symmetry transformation between the two is called parity transformation. Invariance under parity transformation by a Dirac fermion is called chiral symmetry.

In particle physics, preons are point particles, conceived of as sub-components of quarks and leptons. The word was coined by Jogesh Pati and Abdus Salam, in 1974. Interest in preon models peaked in the 1980s but has slowed, as the Standard Model of particle physics continues to describe physics mostly successfully, and no direct experimental evidence for lepton and quark compositeness has been found. Preons come in four varieties, plus, anti-plus, zero and anti-zero. W bosons have six preons, and quarks and leptons have only three.

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.

The timeline of particle physics lists the sequence of particle physics theories and discoveries in chronological order. The most modern developments follow the scientific development of the discipline of particle physics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matter</span> Something that has mass and volume

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or heat. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Superfluid vacuum theory</span> Theory of fundamental physics

Superfluid vacuum theory (SVT), sometimes known as the BEC vacuum theory, is an approach in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics where the fundamental physical vacuum is considered as a superfluid or as a Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of subatomic physics</span>

The idea that matter consists of smaller particles and that there exists a limited number of sorts of primary, smallest particles in nature has existed in natural philosophy at least since the 6th century BC. Such ideas gained physical credibility beginning in the 19th century, but the concept of "elementary particle" underwent some changes in its meaning: notably, modern physics no longer deems elementary particles indestructible. Even elementary particles can decay or collide destructively; they can cease to exist and create (other) particles in result.


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  2. Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. ISBN   978-0582053830. entry "Boson"
  3. Notes on Dirac's lecture Developments in Atomic Theory at Le Palais de la Découverte, 6 December 1945. UKNATARCHI Dirac Papers. BW83/2/257889.
  4. Farmelo, Graham (25 August 2009). The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom. Basic Books. p. 331. ISBN   9780465019922.
  5. Daigle, Katy (10 July 2012). "India: Enough about Higgs, let's discuss the boson". Associated Press . Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. Bal, Hartosh Singh (19 September 2012). "The Bose in the Boson". Latitude (blog). The New York Times . Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  7. "Higgs boson: The poetry of subatomic particles". BBC News. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  8. Carroll, Sean (2007). Guidebook. Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The dark side of the universe. The Teaching Company. Part 2, p. 43. ISBN   978-1598033502. ... boson: A force-carrying particle, as opposed to a matter particle (fermion). Bosons can be piled on top of each other without limit. Examples are photons, gluons, gravitons, weak bosons, and the Higgs boson. The spin of a boson is always an integer: 0, 1, 2, and so on ...
  9. Qaim, Syed M.; Spahn, Ingo; Scholten, Bernhard; Neumaier, Bernd (8 June 2016). "Uses of alpha particles, especially in nuclear reaction studies and medical radionuclide production". Radiochimica Acta. 104 (9): 601. doi:10.1515/ract-2015-2566. S2CID   56100709 . Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  10. Poole, Charles P. Jr. (11 March 2004). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics. Academic Press. ISBN   978-0-08-054523-3.