The Quantum ChromoDynamics (QCD) theory that describes the strong interaction among quarks and gluons predicts a transition from the ordinary state of nuclear matter into a new state with unconfined quarks and gluons, the so-called Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). Studies of the QGP can help us understand the strong interaction and the evolution of the early universe. Since the discovery of a strongly interacting QGP at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the main task for high-energy nuclear physics has switched to quantifying the properties of this novel state of nuclear matter, and to understanding the phase transition between the QGP and ordinary nuclear matter. In this talk, I will present the latest results and their physics implications from the STAR experiment at RHIC, utilizing heavy flavor quarks as a probe to study QGP properties. These results are obtained from a new silicon vertex detector, the Heavy Flavor Tracker (HFT), whose design, performance, and future upgrade plan will also be discussed.
Argonne Physics Division Seminar Schedule