Scientists achieve higher precision weak force measurement between protons, neutrons

Scientists achieve higher precision weak force measurement between protons, neutrons
The n-helium-3 precision experiment, conducted at ORNL, measured the weak force between protons and neutrons by detecting the tiny electrical signal produced when a neutron and a helium-3 nucleus combine and then decay as they move through the helium gas target cell. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Through a one-of-a-kind experiment at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear physicists have precisely measured the weak interaction between protons and neutrons. The result quantifies the weak force theory as predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics.


The team’s weak force observation, detailed in Physical Review Letters, was measured through a precision experiment called n3He, or n-helium-3, that ran at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source, or SNS. Their finding yielded the smallest uncertainty of any comparable weak force measurement in the nucleus of an atom to date, which establishes an important benchmark.

The Standard Model describes the

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