Discover terms used throughout our site

H-minus Ions

A majority of science at TRIUMF begins with creating H- ions from hydrogen atoms – one proton and one unpaired neutral electron – because electrons carry a negative charge, adding one or more makes an ion negatively charged.


Antimatter particles have the same mass as their matter counterparts, but qualities such as electric charge are opposite. Matter and antimatter particles are always produced as a pair and, if they come in contact, annihilate each other.

Electric Dipole Moment

The electric dipole moment is a measure of the separation of positive and negative electrical charges within a system. The dipole moment’s size is affected by the difference in electronegativity and the distance between the charges


While each element has an atomic nucleus with a unique proton number, the neutron number can vary. These different ‘flavours’ of the element are called ‘isotopes.’


Mesons are short-lived, unstable subatomic particles - composed of one quark and one antiquark bound together by strong interactions - that were of particular interest to researchers in the 1960's and 1970's


The dense cores of atoms, which are made of protons and neutrons (with the exception of hydrogen)

Valence Electrons

Electrons in the outermost shell of an atom that can participate in the formation of chemical bonds with other atom


Beamlines are evacuated pipes that enable the transport of particle beams without interactions or collisions with air.

Standard Model

Developed in the early 1970's, the Standard Model of particle physics classifies the known building blocks of the universe, elementary particles, and explains their interactions with both each other and with 3 of 4 fundamental forces.

Gamma Ray

Gamma rays have the smallest wavelengths and the most energy on the electromagnetic spectrum. On Earth, gamma rays can be generated by nuclear explosions, lightning, and radioactive decay.

Linear Accelerator

A linear particle accelerator known as a linac increases the velocity of charged subatomic particles or ions by subjecting them to a series of oscillating electric potentials along a linear beamline


An elementary particle similar to an electron but 207 times heavier. Because of this mass and relatively long life, muons are an ideal applied science particle in TRIUMF's molecular and quantum science division


A subatomic particle that carries a positive electrical charge; also the atomic nucleus of hydrogen


A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity with zero resistance. Most superconducting materials must be in an extremely low energy state (very cold) to become superconductive

Decay Spectroscopy

Decay spectroscopy is a set of techniques used to determine the decay properties of radioactive nuclei by observing the particles emitted from a nucleus

B.C. Binning

A founding member of Vancouver School of Art (today's Emily Carr University of Art and Design) he held positions at The University of British Columbia later helping to found the Department of Fine Art at UBC. He received innumerable grants, awards, and fellowships, becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1971.

Heavy Elements

The informal name for all elements with 93 or more protons in their nucleus, some of which can be produced artificially as part of accelerator-based experiments

Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry

The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but everything we see from in the universe is made almost entirely of matter. There is not much antimatter to be found. What happened to the antimatter?


A subatomic particle that carries no electric charge; neutrons join with protons to create the nuclei of all atoms.

Quantum Materials

Quantum materials are solids with unique physical properties that stem from unexpected interactions of their electrons


A liquid that has zero viscosity – superfluids can flow across a surface without losing energy due friction with the surface