In the Standard Model of particle physics the theory of the strong
force, known as Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), describes how the basic
constituents of nucleons (quarks and gluons) interact and build the
visible matter around us. After half a century of research, enormous
progress has been made concerning the quark content of nucleons and
nuclei. However, very little is known about the gluons, the carriers of
the interaction itself.
In order to study the very nature of the strong force, an Electron-Ion
Collider (EIC) is planned within the next 10-15 years in the USA. This
will be the first polarized electron-ion collider in the world and will
offer a unique opportunity to understand the role of gluons in strongly
interacting systems. It will provide the kinematics to explore a new
state of matter predicted by QCD (the color-glass condensate), where
gluons dominate its behavior and hints of which have been observed in
colliders such as HERA, RHIC and the LHC. In addition, thanks to recent
developments at electron-scattering facilities like Jefferson Lab, the
EIC will also allow to quantitatively understand the internal structure
of nucleons and nuclei and how their macroscopic properties (such as
their mass and spin) arise from the QCD degrees of freedom.
This seminar will review the most pressing questions in our fundamental
understanding of QCD and how an EIC will address each of them
specifically. The organization of the EIC users community around the
world will be outlined and the current lines of detector R&D pursued
will be briefly presented.