Quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is the fundamental theory in elementary particle physics that describes the strong interaction in terms of exchanges of force-carrying, colour-charged particles known as gluons. Although well-established through experimental verifications, there are fundamental unsolved problems in the theory.
In this thesis, some novel aspects of strong interaction dynamics are studied in the context of colour singlet exchange processes — interactions where complex systems of gluons with no net colour charge are exchanged. Both perturbative and non-perturbative QCD methods are used, as well as Monte Carlo computer simulations.
Soft colour interactions in the final state of a high energy collision can lead to effective colour singlet exchange. Non-perturbative models for such interactions are shown to give a good description of diffractive production of W, Z, bb, J/ψ and jets in pp collisions at the Tevatron. Predictions are given for diffractive Higgs boson and prompt photon production at hadron colliders.
Rapidity gaps between jets is a new phenomenon which is studied with an improved perturbative calculation of hard colour singlet exchange using the BFKL equation, taking into account previously neglected contributions and non-leading logarithmic corrections. Including also underlying soft rescattering effects, the complete model reproduces well data from the Tevatron.
Diffractive vector meson production through hard colour singlet exchange in γp collisions is studied in the framework of the conformal invariant non-forward solution of the BFKL equation. Expressions for helicity-dependent amplitudes are derived, and the results show good agreement with data on J/ψ and ρ production from the ep collider HERA.
These studies lead to a deeper knowledge of complex gluon dynamics, and therefore advance our understanding of QCD.