Strongly interacting low-viscosity matter created in relativistic nuclear collisions

Laszlo P. Csernai, Joseph I. Kapusta, Larry D. McLerran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

388 Scopus citations


Substantial collective flow is observed in collisions between large nuclei at BNL RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) as evidenced by single-particle transverse momentum distributions and by azimuthal correlations among the produced particles. The data are well reproduced by perfect fluid dynamics. A calculation of the dimensionless ratio of shear viscosity η to entropy density s by Kovtun, Son, and Starinets within anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory yields η/s=/4πkB, which has been conjectured to be a lower bound for any physical system. Motivated by these results, we show that the transition from hadrons to quarks and gluons has behavior similar to helium, nitrogen, and water at and near their phase transitions in the ratio η/s. We suggest that experimental measurements can pinpoint the location of this transition or rapid crossover in QCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152303
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2006


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