I recently had question, can 2 elementary particles be "attached" together using Strong and weak nuclear forces to create a bound state. For example can Electron and some other stable elementary particle such as Strange Quark be formed to gather with electron orbiting the heavier particle similar to a atomic structure?

  • $\begingroup$ Electrons don't "fell" either strong or weak force. But you could use quarks... that's what the proton is. $\endgroup$ – jinawee Mar 29 '14 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ The weak interaction does not produce bound states at all. $\endgroup$ – David H Mar 29 '14 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ @jinawee Electrons do "feel" the weak force. Two electrons can interact via exchange of virtual Z bosons, though the amplitude of this interaction is negligible compared virtual photon process accept at high energies. $\endgroup$ – David H Mar 29 '14 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ Mesons are bound quark, anti-quark pairs and Positronium is a bound electron and positron. $\endgroup$ – Brandon Enright Mar 29 '14 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidH Yep, forgot about that. OP might be interested in: physics.stackexchange.com/q/89202 $\endgroup$ – jinawee Mar 29 '14 at 23:01

Since electrons don't interact through the strong interaction, an electron-quark "atom" is on the face of it the same as an electron-proton atom. (Except maybe weak interaction decays, I'm not entirely sure.)

However: a free quark has never been observed in experiments, and it is widely believed - but not proved - that the theory of strong interactions does not allow free quarks at all. Instead, quarks bond in pairs or triplets. The most famous such particles are of course neutrons and protons. So in a sense not only can quarks form composite particles, they most likely have to.

Bound pairs of quarks have energy levels like atoms, but often the difference in energy is very large. It's the strong interaction after all. The energy difference can be so large that particle physicists have several names for particles that have the same constituent parts.


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