Weak isospin

Summary

In particle physics, weak isospin is a quantum number relating to the electrically charged part of the weak interaction: Particles with half-integer weak isospin can interact with the
W±
bosons; particles with zero weak isospin do not. Weak isospin is a construct parallel to the idea of isospin under the strong interaction. Weak isospin is usually given the symbol T or I, with the third component written as T3 or I3 . T3 is more important than T; typically "weak isospin" is used as short form of the proper term "3rd component of weak isospin". It can be understood as the eigenvalue of a charge operator.

Notation

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This article uses T and T3 for weak isospin and its projection. Regarding ambiguous notation, I is also used to represent the 'normal' (strong force) isospin, same for its third component I3 a.k.a. T3 or Tz . Aggravating the confusion, T is also used as the symbol for the Topness quantum number.

Conservation law

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The weak isospin conservation law relates to the conservation of   weak interactions conserve T3. It is also conserved by the electromagnetic and strong interactions. However, interaction with the Higgs field does not conserve T3, as directly seen in propagating fermions, which mix their chiralities by the mass terms that result from their Higgs couplings. Since the Higgs field vacuum expectation value is nonzero, particles interact with this field all the time, even in vacuum. Interaction with the Higgs field changes particles' weak isospin (and weak hypercharge). Only a specific combination of electric charge is conserved. The electric charge,   is related to weak isospin,   and weak hypercharge,   by

 

In 1961 Sheldon Glashow proposed this relation by analogy to the Gell-Mann–Nishijima formula for charge to isospin.[1][2]: 152 

Relation with chirality

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Fermions with negative chirality (also called "left-handed" fermions) have   and can be grouped into doublets with   that behave the same way under the weak interaction. By convention, electrically charged fermions are assigned   with the same sign as their electric charge. For example, up-type quarks (u, c, t) have   and always transform into down-type quarks (d, s, b), which have   and vice versa. On the other hand, a quark never decays weakly into a quark of the same   Something similar happens with left-handed leptons, which exist as doublets containing a charged lepton (
e
,
μ
,
τ
) with   and a neutrino (
ν
e
,
ν
μ
,
ν
τ
) with   In all cases, the corresponding anti-fermion has reversed chirality ("right-handed" antifermion) and reversed sign  

Fermions with positive chirality ("right-handed" fermions) and anti-fermions with negative chirality ("left-handed" anti-fermions) have   and form singlets that do not undergo charged weak interactions. Particles with   do not interact with
W±
bosons
; however, they do all interact with the
Z0
boson
.

Neutrinos

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Lacking any distinguishing electric charge, neutrinos and antineutrinos are assigned the   opposite their corresponding charged lepton; hence, all left-handed neutrinos are paired with negatively charged left-handed leptons with   so those neutrinos have   Since right-handed antineutrinos are paired with positively charged right-handed anti-leptons with   those antineutrinos are assigned   The same result follows from particle-antiparticle charge & parity reversal, between left-handed neutrinos ( ) and right-handed antineutrinos ( ).


Left-handed fermions in the Standard Model[3]
Generation 1 Generation 2 Generation 3
Fermion Electric
charge
Symbol Weak
isospin
Fermion Electric
charge
Symbol Weak
isospin
Fermion Electric
charge
Symbol Weak
isospin
Electron       Muon       Tauon      
Up quark       Charm quark       Top quark      
Down quark       Strange quark       Bottom quark      
Electron neutrino       Muon neutrino       Tau neutrino      
All of the above left-handed (regular) particles have corresponding right-handed anti-particles with equal and opposite weak isospin.
All right-handed (regular) particles and left-handed anti-particles have weak isospin of 0.

Weak isospin and the W bosons

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The symmetry associated with weak isospin is SU(2) and requires gauge bosons with   (
W+
,
W
, and
W0
) to mediate transformations between fermions with half-integer weak isospin charges. [4]  implies that
W
bosons have three different values of  


  • W+
    boson   is emitted in transitions   

  • W0
    boson   would be emitted in weak interactions where   does not change, such as neutrino scattering.

  • W
    boson   is emitted in transitions   .

Under electroweak unification, the
W0
boson mixes with the weak hypercharge gauge boson
B0
; both have weak isospin = 0 . This results in the observed
Z0
boson and the photon of quantum electrodynamics; the resulting
Z0
and
γ0
likewise have zero weak isospin.

See also

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Footnotes

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References

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  1. ^ Glashow, Sheldon L. (1961-02-01). "Partial-symmetries of weak interactions". Nuclear Physics. 22 (4): 579–588. doi:10.1016/0029-5582(61)90469-2. ISSN 0029-5582.
  2. ^ Greiner, Walter; Müller, Berndt; Greiner, Walter (1996). Gauge theory of weak interactions (2 ed.). Berlin Heidelberg New York Barcelona Budapest Hong Kong London Milan Paris Santa Clara Singapore Tokyo: Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-60227-9.
  3. ^ Baez, John C.; Huerta, John (2010). "The algebra of Grand Unified Theories". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. 47 (3): 483–552. arXiv:0904.1556. Bibcode:2009arXiv0904.1556B. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-10-01294-2. S2CID 2941843.
    "§2.3.1 isospin and SU(2), redux". Huerta's academic site. U.C. Riverside. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  4. ^ An introduction to quantum field theory, by M.E. Peskin and D.V. Schroeder (HarperCollins, 1995) ISBN 0-201-50397-2; Gauge theory of elementary particle physics, by T.P. Cheng and L.F. Li (Oxford University Press, 1982) ISBN 0-19-851961-3; The quantum theory of fields (vol 2), by S. Weinberg (Cambridge University Press, 1996) ISBN 0-521-55002-5.