3d Spin

The project

3DSPIN is a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC), 3DSPIN will receive 1.5 million euros in five years. Funds will be used mainly to hire young researchers and create an international and dynamic group.

The project will be led by Alessandro Bacchetta (Principal Investigator) and will fit into the activities of the research group that studies proton’s physics in Pavia, one of the best groups in the world in this field (with prof. Barbara Pasquini, Marco Radici and Marco Guagnelli).

The project will be managed by the Department of Physics of the University of Pavia in partnership with the Italian Nuclear Physics National Institute (INFN). This grant is particularly important since there is a serious shortage of national funding programs.

Selection procedure

The ERC grants, established in 2007, are at present the most prestigious grants in Europe given to individual researchers. In all research fields, this year 2528 proposals have been submitted and 372 accepted, of which 16 in Italian institutions. In the domain of “Physical Sciences & Engineering,” 1205 applications have been submitted and 165 accepted, of which 10 in Italy. More information can be found at http://erc.europa.eu/media-and-events/press-releases. At the University of Pavia, this is the fifth project supported by ERC, the first one in Physics.

Applications are initially assigned to 25 panels of about 15 European high-level scientists, which make a first selection. Subsequently, the selected projects are reviewed by experts in the field of research. Finally, the candidates are interviewed by the panel. Only those projects that pass these evaluations with top marks receive funding.

Scientific goals

How does the inside of a proton look like?
Protons are the smallest composite structures of the universe presently known. Mapping their inner structure is a challenge at the edge of human possibilities: to have an idea, a proton on a soccer ball is as big as a grain of sand on the surface of the sun. Today we know that inside protons there are quarks and gluons and we have a precise idea of how they are distributed in a single dimension. The goal of 3DSPIN is to map the structure of the proton in three dimensions. If we compared the proton to a hand, it would be like going from a Chinese shadow to a CAT scan.

Where does the “spin” of the proton comes from?
Spin is a fundamental property of nature, like mass, electric charge, light polarization. It is often assimilated to a rotation of the proton around itself (whence the name spin). 3DSPIN will study how quarks and gluon organize themselves to generate the spin of the proton, as if they were dancer swirling together in a complicated waltzer.

3DSPIN is a base research project, without immediate applications. ERC grants have scientific excellence as their sole, independently of the topic of research and its concrete applications. Protons, together with neutron, contain practically all the mass of our world: knowing their internal structure is essential in the study of several phenomena (in particular in elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, atomic physics and astrophysics).

The Principal Investigator

Alessandro Bacchetta graduated in Physics at the University of Pavia in 1998, under the supervision of prof. S. Boffi. He spent 11 years abroad. In 2002, he obtained a PhD in Physics from the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, under the supervision of prof. P.J. Mulders. He has worked for five years in Germany, first in Regensburg, as Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, then in Hamburg at the DESY laboratory. He moved then to the US, at Jefferson National Laboratory (Virginia), as Nathan Isgur Distinguished Fellow. He came back to Italy in 2009, as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics of the University of Pavia, where he teaches a cours in Quantum Electrodynamics. He is married and has four children.

3DSPIN Publications


  • REF 2019 – Extraction of TMDs from Drell-Yan data

    Bissolotti C., Talk. Co-authors: Bacchetta, Bertone, Bozzi, Delcarro, Piacenza, Radici, Date: 27/11/2019, Conference: REF 2019, Place: Pavia, Italy, Dates: 25/11/2019 - 29/11/2019, URL: https://agenda.infn.it/event/17749/....

  • REF 2019 –

    Bacchetta A., Organizer (Co-chair). Co-authors: , Date: , Conference: REF 2019, Place: Pavia, Italy, Dates: 25/11/2019 - 29/11/2019, URL: https://agenda.infn.it/event/17749/....

  • LC2019 –

    Pasquini B., Member of IAC. Co-authors: , Date: , Conference: LC2019, Place: Palaiseau, France, Dates: 16/09/2019 - 20/09/2019, URL: https://indico.cern.ch/event/734913/....