Separated response function ratios in exclusive, forward π(±) electroproduction

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 May 9;112(18):182501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.182501. Epub 2014 May 5.


The study of exclusive π(±) electroproduction on the nucleon, including separation of the various structure functions, is of interest for a number of reasons. The ratio RL=σL(π-)/σL(π+) is sensitive to isoscalar contamination to the dominant isovector pion exchange amplitude, which is the basis for the determination of the charged pion form factor from electroproduction data. A change in the value of RT=σT(π-)/σT(π+) from unity at small -t, to 1/4 at large -t, would suggest a transition from coupling to a (virtual) pion to coupling to individual quarks. Furthermore, the mentioned ratios may show an earlier approach to perturbative QCD than the individual cross sections. We have performed the first complete separation of the four unpolarized electromagnetic structure functions above the dominant resonances in forward, exclusive π(±) electroproduction on the deuteron at central Q(2) values of 0.6, 1.0, 1.6 GeV(2) at W=1.95 GeV, and Q(2)=2.45 GeV(2) at W=2.22 GeV. Here, we present the L and T cross sections, with emphasis on RL and RT, and compare them with theoretical calculations. Results for the separated ratio RL indicate dominance of the pion-pole diagram at low -t, while results for RT are consistent with a transition between pion knockout and quark knockout mechanisms.