The proton and neutron, known as nucleons, are the fundamental building blocks of all atomic nuclei and make up essentially all the visible matter in the universe, including the stars, the planets, and us. The nucleon emerges as a strongly interacting, relativistic bound state of quarks and gluons in Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong force. Its internal structure and dynamics are only beginning to be revealed in modern experiments. In this talk, I will demonstrate that the proposed Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) with its unique capability to collide polarized electrons with polarized protons and light ions at unprecedented luminosity, and with heavy nuclei at high energy, will be the most powerful tomographic scanner able to precisely image quarks and gluons inside the proton and nuclei. It is also a precision microscope that allows us to “see” and explore the dynamics binding quarks and gluons together to form hadrons. The EIC will address the most compelling unanswered questions in QCD and hadron physics, and take us to the next QCD frontier.
A. Accardi et al., “Electron Ion Collider: The Next QCD Frontier - Understanding the glue that binds us all,” Eur. Phys. J. A52, 268 (2016)