Groundbreaking technique reveals new details on the fifth force of nature

It also uncovered new information about an important subatomic particle.


The Standard Model is currently the widely accepted theory of how particles and forces interact at the smallest scales. It describes three fundamental forces in nature: electromagnetic, strong, and weak nuclear force. 

But it’s an incomplete explanation of how nature works. Also, other theories suggest the possible presence of a fifth force of nature.

Using a newly developed groundbreaking technique called neutron pendell¨osung interferometry, scientists revealed previously unknown properties of technologically crucial silicon crystals. The method also revealed essential information about a crucial subatomic particle and a long-theorized fifth force of nature.

Scientists mainly focused on subatomic particles called neutrons at silicon crystals. They then monitored the outcome with intense sensitivity.

They obtained three significant results:

  • The first measurement of a critical neutron property in 20 years using a unique method.
  • The highest-precision measurements of the effects of heat-related vibrations in a silicon crystal.
  • Limits on the strength of a possible fifth force beyond standard physics theories.

The research was an international collaboration conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Dmitry Pushin, a member of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, said“This was a multi-year experiment, and we had great results that are technically exciting and opens the door to future technologies.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin Heacock et al. Pendellösung Interferometry Probes the Neutron Charge Radius, Lattice Dynamics, and Fifth Forces. arXiv, 2021; DOI: 10.48550/arXiv.2103.05428