In theoretical physics, the Chan–Paton factor (named after Jack E. Paton and Hong-Mo Chan) is a multivalued index associated with the endpoints of an open string. An open string can be interpreted as a flux tube connecting a quark and its antiparticle. The two Chan–Paton factors make the string transform as a tensor under a gauge group whose charges are carried by the endpoints of the strings.
After the second superstring revolution in 1995, Chan–Paton factors are interpreted as labels that identify which (spacetime-filling) D-branes the stringy endpoints are attached to. The Chan–Paton factors have become a special case of a more general concept.
- H. M. Chan, J. E. Paton, "Generalized Veneziano Model with Isospin", Nucl. Phys. B10, 516 (1969).
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