In particle physics, a boson (/ˈbzɒn/[1] /ˈbsɒn/[2]) is a subatomic particle whose spin quantum number has an integer value (0, 1, 2, ...). Bosons form one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particle, the other being fermions, which have odd half-integer spin (12, 32, 52, ...). Every observed subatomic particle is either a boson or a fermion. Paul Dirac coined the name boson to commemorate the contribution of Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist.

Bosons form one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particle, the other being fermions. All subatomic particles must be one or the other. A composite particle (hadron) may fall into either class depending on its composition

Some bosons are elementary particles occupying a special role in particle physics, distinct from the role of fermions (which are sometimes described as the constituents of "ordinary matter"). Certain elementary bosons (e.g. gluons) act as force carriers, which give rise to forces between other particles, while one (the Higgs boson) contributes to the phenomenon of mass. Other bosons, such as mesons, are composite particles made up of smaller constituents.

Outside the realm of particle physics, multiple identical composite bosons (in this context sometimes known as 'bose particles') behave at high densities or low temperatures in a characteristic manner described by Bose–Einstein statistics: for example a gas of helium-4 atoms becomes a superfluid at temperatures close to absolute zero. Similarly, superconductivity arises because some quasiparticles, such as Cooper pairs, behave in the same way.



The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac[3][4] to commemorate the contribution of Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist. When Bose was a reader (later professor) at the University of Dhaka, Bengal (now in Bangladesh),[5][6] he and Albert Einstein developed the theory characterising such particles, now known as Bose–Einstein statistics and Bose–Einstein condensate.[7]

Elementary bosons


All observed elementary particles are either bosons (with integer spin) or fermions (with odd half-integer spin).[8] Whereas the elementary particles that make up ordinary matter (leptons and quarks) are fermions, elementary bosons occupy a special role in particle physics. They act either as force carriers which give rise to forces between other particles, or in one case give rise to the phenomenon of mass.

According to the Standard Model of Particle Physics there are five elementary bosons:

  • A second order tensor boson (spin = 2) called the graviton (G) has been hypothesised as the force carrier for gravity, but so far all attempts to incorporate gravity into the Standard Model have failed.[a]

Composite bosons


Composite particles (such as hadrons, nuclei, and atoms) can be bosons or fermions depending on their constituents. Since bosons have integer spin and fermions odd half-integer spin, any composite particle made up of an even number of fermions is a boson.

Composite bosons include:

As quantum particles, the behaviour of multiple indistinguishable bosons at high densities is described by Bose–Einstein statistics. One characteristic which becomes important in superfluidity and other applications of Bose–Einstein condensates is that there is no restriction on the number of bosons that may occupy the same quantum state. As a consequence, when for example a gas of helium-4 atoms is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero and the kinetic energy of the particles becomes negligible, it condenses into a low-energy state and becomes a superfluid.



Certain quasiparticles are observed to behave as bosons and to follow Bose–Einstein statistics, including Cooper pairs, plasmons and phonons.[10]: 130 

See also

  • Anyon – Type of two-dimensional quasiparticle
  • Bose gas – State of matter of many bosons
  • Parastatistics – Notion in statistical mechanics

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Despite being the carrier of the gravitational force which interacts with mass, most attempts at quantum gravity have expected the graviton to have no mass, just like the photon has no electric charge, and the W and Z bosons have no "flavour".
  2. ^ Even-mass-number nuclides comprise  153 / 254 = 60% of all stable nuclides. They are bosons, i.e. they have integer spin, and almost all of them (148 of the 153) are even-proton / even-neutron (EE) nuclides. The EE nuclides necessarily have spin 0 because of pairing. The remaining 5 stable bosonic nuclides are odd-proton / odd-neutron (OO) stable nuclides (see Even and odd atomic nuclei § Odd proton, odd neutron). The five odd–odd bosonic nuclides are:

    Each of the five has integer, nonzero spin.


  1. ^ "boson". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. ISBN 978-0582053830. entry "Boson"
  3. ^ Notes on Dirac's lecture Developments in Atomic Theory at Le Palais de la Découverte, 6 December 1945. UKNATARCHI Dirac Papers. BW83/2/257889.
  4. ^ Farmelo, Graham (25 August 2009). The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom. Basic Books. p. 331. ISBN 9780465019922.
  5. ^ Daigle, Katy (10 July 2012). "India: Enough about Higgs, let's discuss the boson". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. ^ Bal, Hartosh Singh (19 September 2012). "The Bose in the Boson". Latitude (blog). The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Higgs boson: The poetry of subatomic particles". BBC News. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  8. ^ Carroll, Sean (2007). Guidebook. Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The dark side of the universe. The Teaching Company. Part 2, p. 43. ISBN 978-1598033502. ... boson: A force-carrying particle, as opposed to a matter particle (fermion). Bosons can be piled on top of each other without limit. Examples are photons, gluons, gravitons, weak bosons, and the Higgs boson. The spin of a boson is always an integer: 0, 1, 2, and so on ...
  9. ^ Qaim, Syed M.; Spahn, Ingo; Scholten, Bernhard; Neumaier, Bernd (8 June 2016). "Uses of alpha particles, especially in nuclear reaction studies and medical radionuclide production". Radiochimica Acta. 104 (9): 601. doi:10.1515/ract-2015-2566. S2CID 56100709. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  10. ^ Poole, Charles P. Jr. (11 March 2004). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-08-054523-3.