Quark-level analogue of nuclear fusion with doubly heavy baryons

Marek Karliner, Jonathan L. Rosner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The essence of nuclear fusion is that energy can be released by the rearrangement of nucleons between the initial- and final-state nuclei. The recent discovery of the first doubly charmed baryon, which contains two charm quarks (c) and one up quark (u) and has a mass of about 3,621 megaelectronvolts (MeV) (the mass of the proton is 938 MeV) also revealed a large binding energy of about 130 MeV between the two charm quarks. Here we report that this strong binding enables a quark-rearrangement, exothermic reaction in which two heavy baryons (Λ(c)) undergo fusion to produce the doubly charmed baryon and a neutron n (), resulting in an energy release of 12 MeV. This reaction is a quark-level analogue of the deuterium-tritium nuclear fusion reaction (DT → 4He n). The much larger binding energy (approximately 280 MeV) between two bottom quarks (b) causes the analogous reaction with bottom quarks () to have a much larger energy release of about 138 MeV. We suggest some experimental setups in which the highly exothermic nature of the fusion of two heavy-quark baryons might manifest itself. At present, however, the very short lifetimes of the heavy bottom and charm quarks preclude any practical applications of such reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-91
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume551
Issue number7678
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017

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