Three different production channels for single top quarks can be distinguished: the s-channel (a), the t-channel (b) and the W-associated channel (c)
The top quark remains, nearly 20 years after its discovery by the experiments at Fermilab’s Tevatron, the heaviest particle known. Its production and decays continue to be the subjects of extensive studies, both at the Tevatron and at the LHC. While top quarks are predominantly produced in pairs through the strong interaction, the production of single top quarks is also possible by virtue of the electroweak interaction, albeit with a much smaller production cross-section. This latter production mechanism provides a unique window into the dynamics of the top quark.
Three different production channels for single top quarks can be distinguished: the t-channel, the s-channel and the W-associated channel [see figure]. After many years of intensive searches, the Tevatron experiment collaborations first reported the observation of singly produced top quarks in 2009. These initial searches were optimized for the t- and s-channel production modes combined. Later, the t-channel mode was individually established by experiments at the Tevatron and the LHC, while evidence for s-channel production was reported only recently by the D0 collaboration at the Tevatron, in July 2013.