Lebanon Valley College Physicist Dr. Daniel Pitonyak Part of a U.S. Department of Energy $1.95 Million Grant

Brookhaven Lab to Lead New ‘Saturated Glue’ Theory Collaboration

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory announced a nearly $2 million grant to a group of researchers who are part of the SURGE (SatURated GluE) Topical Theory Collaboration. The five-year grant will enable scientists from 16 colleges, universities, and national laboratories to develop calculations and a framework for discovering and exploring a saturated state of gluons, the particles that hold together everything we see. Dr. Daniel Pitonyak, LVC assistant professor of physics, is a member of SURGE.

According to Brookhaven’s announcement, SURGE will aid in the discovery and exploration of a saturated state of gluons. These aptly named particles carry the nuclear strong force, acting as the ‘glue’ that holds together quarks, the building blocks of all visible matter. By understanding gluons’ ability to split and recombine and potentially reach a state of saturation, scientists hope to gain deeper insight into the strong force and the role gluons play in generating the mass, spin, and other properties of hadrons—composite particles made of quarks, such as the protons and neutrons of atomic nuclei.

“I am excited to be a member of this collaboration,” said Dr. Pitonyak, who received a National Science Foundation grant in 2020 to fund his theoretical nuclear physics research.

“I will conduct computational work to calculate how much quarks and gluons at very high energy contribute to the proton’s spin, a fundamental quantum mechanical “rotation” carried by all particles. This grant will provide additional support and collaborative opportunities with top institutions in the country for my research and the LVC students who work with me,” added Dr. Pitonyak.

SURGE aims to develop calculations and a theoretical framework for discovering this unique saturated form of gluonic matter. Such a saturated state is predicted by the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) to be observable in particles accelerated to high energies in particle colliders such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven Lab, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Europe’s CERN laboratory, and the future Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) at Brookhaven.

“Our goal is to advance calculations to high precision and develop a comprehensive framework that allows us to compare our theoretical understanding of gluons’ behavior to a wide range of experimental data from RHIC and the LHC and make predictions for what we expect to see at the future EIC,” said Bjoern Schenke, the Brookhaven theorist who will serve as Principal Investigator for the SURGE collaboration.

Partnering institutions include Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility/Old Dominion University; McGill University; The City University of New York, Baruch College; the University of California, Los Angeles; Stony Brook University; The Ohio State University; University of Connecticut; Los Alamos National Laboratory; University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Southern Methodist University; Lebanon Valley College; New Mexico State University; North Carolina State University; Penn State University;  University of California Berkeley.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.