Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Stephen Bültmann

Committee Member

Gail Dodge

Committee Member

Leposava Vuskovic

Committee Member

J. Wallace Van Orden

Committee Member

Richard Zimmerman


The STAR (Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC - Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) experiment is equipped with Roman Pots, insertion devices that allow detectors to be moved close to the beam for the measurement of high energy protons scattered at very small angles. This setup, together with the unique capability of RHIC to collide spin-polarized proton beams, allows STAR to study both the dynamics and the spin-dependence of the proton-proton ( pp) elastic scattering process. Silicon strip detectors, installed inside the Roman Pots, measure tracks of protons scattered diffractively at very small angles. In a dedicated run with special beam optics during the 2009 RHIC run, the collaboration collected about 20 million elastic events with transversely polarized proton beams at the center of mass energy √s= 200 GeV and four momentum transfer squared (t) range of 0.003 ≤ |t| ≤ 0.035 (GeV/c)2, where, due to the Coulomb Nuclear Interference (CNI), a measurable single spin asymmetry arises. While the electromagnetic interaction can be determined in QED, the description of the hadronic interaction at small -t scattering requires the use of nonperturbative techniques in QCD, and, phenomenological models, rather than pQCD, are used to describe the exchange mechanism. High energy diffractive scattering at small-t is dominated by the Pomeron exchange, treated in pQCD as a color singlet combination of two gluons carrying quantum numbers of the vacuum (JPC = 0++). In this dissertation, I report on a high precision measurement of the transverse single spin asymmetry AN at √s= 200 GeV in pp elastic scattering at RHIC. The measured AN and its t-dependence are consistent with the absence of a hadronic spin-flip amplitude. The major contribution to the uncertainty in AN comes from the uncertainty in the beam polarization measurement. The presented results provide a precise measurement in the non-perturbative QCD regime, where experimental data are indispensable, and, a significant constraint on the spin-flip component of the Pomeron.


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