Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics

Theoretical investigations of nuclear and particle phenomena probe the most fundamental laws governing what matter is and how it behaves. A present theory, the "standard model" of elementary particle physics, is sufficiently complete to permit, in principle, the prediction of all kinds of nuclear and atomic interactions as derived "effective" forces, in the same sense that chemical interactions can be derived from the rules of atomic physics. The Duke Nuclear and Particle Theory group develops techniques for achieving this, and is studying applications to the internal structure of nucleons and nuclei.

Our research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through regular research grants as well as through three Outstanding Junior Investigator Awards . We also participate in a Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) grant from the National Science Foundation. Our past research support has includes international collaboration grants from the National Science Foundation as well as collaborative agreements with the RIKEN/BNL Research Center and Jefferson Laboratory.

We participate in international collaborations with many universities, including the University of Durham (England), Kyoto University (Japan) and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (Calcutta, India), as well as universities in Bern (Switzerland), Budapest (Hungary), Munich (Germany), Frankfurt (Germany) and Regensburg (Germany). We also interact closely with nuclear theory and experimental groups at North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina, with whom we run the bi-weekly Triangle Nuclear Theory Colloquium.

Group Members


Postdoctoral Fellows

Graduate Students

Former Group Members

Research Topics

How do quarks interact?

How do the most fundamental particles known bind together to form nucleons? Matter is composed of atoms and molecules, atoms are made of electrons and nuclei, nuclei are built from nucleons, and the constituents of nucleons are quarks. The theory of the force responsible for the binding of quarks into nucleons is called Quantum Chromodynamics, or QCD. Though the binding forces at the first three levels of
composition are quantitatively understood, those at the quark level are still very poorly understood. The Duke group investigates QCD from three broad points of view: the derivation of effective quark interactions from first principles; the behavior of elementary particles under extreme conditions; and reactions of particles and nuclei at high densities and temperatures.

- Click on the following links for further information on the two main research areas of our group:

Lattice Gauge and Effective Field Theories (l/eft)

The Duke group studies particle interactions at both the hadron level (protons, neutrons, mesons and their excited states) and at the quark level. They are particularly interested in the theoretical desciption of phenomena that probe specific QCD-related aspects of these interactions, either through symmetry properties that are characteristic for QCD or through signatures of the quark substructure of hadronic matter. Current research projects include the use of effective field theories for processes involving hadrons containing heavy (c or b) quarks and investigations probing hadron structure.

Lattice gauge calculations provide the only rigorous method to solve QCD and e.g. compute its equation of state. In principle both, non-perturbative confined hadronic matter as well as the non-perturbative and perturbative deconfined phases of QCD can be investigated.

Hot and Dense QCD: Quark-Gluon-Plasma and relativistic heavy ion collisions

The Quark-Gluon-Plasma (QGP) is a primordial form of matter which made up the entire Universe a couple of microseconds after its creation in the Big Bang. Today experiments are underway to recreate this form of matter by colliding two heavy atomic nuclei at very high energies. Investigating the properties of the QGP will provide us with an improved understanding of QCD and the evolution of the early Universe.

Group activities and further information


Further Information