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Short description: Type of subatomic particle
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

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.

Some bosons are elementary particles and occupy a special role in particle physics unlike that of fermions, which are sometimes described as the constituents of "ordinary matter". Some elementary bosons (for example, gluons) act as force carriers, which give rise to forces between other particles, while one (the Higgs boson) gives rise to the phenomenon of mass. Other bosons, such as mesons, are composite particles made up of smaller constituents.

Outside the realm of particle physics, superfluidity arises because composite bosons (bose particles), such as low temperature helium-4 atoms, follow Bose–Einstein statistics; 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 and professor of physics at the University of Calcutta and at the University of Dhaka,[5][6] who developed, in conjunction with Albert Einstein, the theory characterising such particles, now known as Bose–Einstein statistics.[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, the 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 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.[lower-alpha 1]

Composite bosons

Composite particles (such as hadrons, nuclei, and atoms) can be bosons or fermions depending on their constituents. Since bosons have integral spin and fermions odd half-integral 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 particle that occurs only in two-dimensional systems
  • Physics:Bose gas – State of matter of many bosons
  • Parastatistics – Notion in statistical mechanics


  1. Despite being the carrier of the gravitational force which interacts with mass, the graviton is expected to have no mass.
  2. Even-mass-number nuclides, which comprise 153/254 = ~ 60% of all stable nuclides, are bosons, i.e. they have integer spin. Almost all (148 of the 153) are even-proton, even-neutron (EE) nuclides, which necessarily have spin 0 because of pairing. The remaining 5 stable bosonic nuclides are odd-proton, odd-neutron stable nuclides (see even and odd atomic nuclei#Odd proton, odd neutron); these odd–odd bosons are: 21H, 63Li,105B, 147N and 180m73Ta). All have nonzero integer spin.


  1. "boson". boson. Oxford University Press. 
  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 (2009-08-25) (in en). The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom. Basic Books. pp. 331. ISBN 9780465019922. 
  5. Daigle, Katy (10 July 2012). "India: Enough about Higgs, let's discuss the boson". Associated Press. 
  6. Bal, Hartosh Singh (19 September 2012). "The Bose in the Boson". The New York Times. 
  7. "Higgs boson: The poetry of subatomic particles". BBC News. 4 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 (June 8, 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. Retrieved May 22, 2021. 
  10. Poole, Charles P. Jr. (11 March 2004). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-08-054523-3.