Birmingham Experimental Particle Physics Consolidated Grant

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Particle physics in general, and particularly the quest to understand the origins of mass through the Higgs boson, are in the mainstream of current public consciousness. With the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) going from strength to strength, there has never been a more exciting time in the field. Birmingham is unique among UK universities in being involved in three of the four main LHC experiments, as well as a smaller scale CERN experiment which uses a fixed target. We study the particle collisions and decays observed in these experiments with the aim of determining the ultimate structure of matter and the forces of nature.

Our biggest activity is with the ATLAS collaboration, for which group member Dave Charlton is the deputy spokesperson. ATLAS is designed to study wide-ranging aspects of particle physics at the highest energies ever reached in the laboratory, the first priority being the search for the Higgs boson. From up to a billion collisions taking place per second, only around 400 can be permanently recorded and analysed. Our ATLAS group built, maintains and operates a major part of the ATLAS `trigger', the electronic brain of the experiment, which has the task of selecting interesting events such as candidate Higgs bosons, and reducing the data rate by a factor of 1000 within two millionths of a second after collisions take place. We are also very active in analysing the resulting data, with a particularly strong team working on Higgs searches and another investigating the production and decays of top quarks. Being the heaviest of the known particles, top quarks offer excellent sensitivity to previously unknown physics. Whilst top quark samples were small before the LHC era, ATLAS has already collected approaching 100,000 events.

The LHC is expected to operate until around 2030, but will need several shut-down periods during its lifetime, when the accelerator and detectors will be improved. We are already working towards an upgrade of our trigger to improve its selection capabilities and enable it to cope with the increased collision rates expected from 2018. Looking even further to the future, we will use our expertise in the bonding of electronics directly onto silicon-based detectors to make major contributions to a replacement for the inner part of the detector, which will be needed in around 2022.

Beyond ATLAS, our second key area of activity is in understanding the complex decays of heavy quarks. At the LHCb experiment, we are investigating the origins of the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the Universe by searching for tiny differences between the decay characteristics of b quarks and their antiquarks. We are relative newcomers to LHCb, having joined in March 2011 and taken on essential technical responsibilities in simulating the detector and enabling the use of the world-wide computing grid to perform distributed analysis. In the next few years, we aim to further develop these roles as well as our physics analyses, which are currently focused on rare decays of b flavoured particles.

Our NA62 group studies the decays of strange particles to search for new physics such as supersymmetry. The next grant period will be crucial for NA62, as it takes data to study an ultra rare process in which a strange particle, the kaon, decays to produce a pion, which is made of light quarks, and two neutrinos. This process occurs only once in every 10 billion kaon decays and only 80 events are expected in a two year run. Any hint of a larger rate would be a very clear indication of new physics. The group is leading several aspects of NA62 detector construction and data analysis.

Finally, the group contains central proponents of a possible future `LHeC' project to collide electrons with the LHC proton beam, as well as the long-standing linear electron-positron collider project. We will continue in these leadership roles and be ready to step up our involvement should the opportunity arise.

Planned Impact

The group's work leads to high impact levels to society in general, to the physics community and through our knowledge transfer activities.

The group is internationally leading in its outreach work, introducing particle physics to wide audiences of both the general public and school students. For the general public, the impact is at a cultural level: people are ever more curious to understand the basic building blocks of nature and their imagination is captured by the LHC more than by any previous scientific endeavour. Our work with schools helps to engage students in science in exciting ways. As is by now well documented for example by the IOP, the effects of the high profile developed through particle physics outreach work has a measurable effect on numbers of students applying to study physics at University. Some examples of our outreach work are briefly outlined below.

Our `Discovering Particles' display was staged at the British Science Festival 2010 and the Royal Society Science Exhibition 2011. The latter stand attracted about 8000 visitors over 6 days. The associated resources which we developed are widely used. Similar planned events for 2012 include the NEC Big Bang Fair and participating in BBC ``Bang Goes the Theory LIVE" roadshow. Together with the Birmingham Think Tank museum, we have created a display of a set of short videos, introducing physicists, engineers and technicians from ATLAS, which have been used to form an exhibition visited by more than 10000 people. We have developed a simplified version of our ATLAS event visualisation package, which is freely downloadable for members of the public to learn about particle physics signatures and detectors and has been used by more than 8000 school students in Europe and the USA in masterclass events. We demonstrate our spark chamber, cosmic ray scintillator and cloud chamber in schools more than 20 times per year, run `CASCADE' competitions in which schools produce particle physics outreach material of their own, and we have developed a `Particle Physics Manager' computer strategy game. We have a strong media presence, with group members making regular appearances on TV, radio and in the printed press. Group members also give frequent lectures on particle physics and the LHC in schools, scientific societies and elsewhere.

Our primary current knowledge exchange activities are based on exploitation of our expertise and facilities in silicon / electronics assembly and distributed computing. The silicon work has grown out of the high-performance ultrasonic wire-bonding work which the group did in constructing the ATLAS semi-conductor tracker. In collaboration with industrial partners, Aero Engine Controls, we have constructed 20 prototype electronic boards, designed to function at very high temperatures, for example in aircraft engines. Together with the new West Midlands Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), we are in the process of gathering collaborators to secure Technology Strategy Board funding with a view to developing a manufacturing process to commercialise this work.

We are exploiting our distributed computing / grid knowledge obtained in the context of the `Ganga' grid interface framework in collaboration with computer science start-up companies, to develop tools for web search engines. For example, we have deployed a `web-spider' on the grid, which searched the content of billions of web pages and built unprecedented levels of statistics on relative occurrences of different combinations of words, with applications from predictive text to understanding sentence structure.

Publications

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Aaboud M (2018) Measurement of colour flow using jet-pull observables in events with the ATLAS experiment at . in The European physical journal. C, Particles and fields

 
Description Multiple areas of scientific progress in the first phase of LHC running, most notably the discovery of a Higgs boson, explaining the origin of mass and opening a new sub-subject of scalar fields.
Exploitation Route There is a very major ongoing public engagement programme, both locally in Birmingham, nationally and internationally
Sectors Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

 
Description Discovery of the Higgs boson and many other outputs from collaborations at CERN funded through this grant have had a major impact on public understanding of / interest in science, including recruitment of young people into STEM areas. We are also attempting to apply ATLAS tracking detectors to medical imaging.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Organiser of EUCARD2 "Ion Beam Therapy: Clinical, Scientific and Technical Challenges"
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Multi-disciplinary meeting of primarily healthcare professionals involved with hadron radiotherapy
URL http://eucard2.web.cern.ch/events/ion-beam-therapy-clinical-scientific-and-technical-challenges
 
Description STFC invitation to the Focus Group Meeting of its CLASP (Challenge Led Applied Systems) Healthcare call.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description AIDA
Amount £73,538 (GBP)
Funding ID AIDA-2020 (H2020-INFRAIA-2014-2015 call) 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2015 
End 12/2019
 
Description CASE Studentship
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/P002552/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2020
 
Description Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships (Watson)
Amount £402,603 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2010 
End 09/2016
 
Description ERC Starting Grant (Goudzovski)
Amount € 1,600,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2018
 
Description FP7
Amount £506,292 (GBP)
Funding ID GA 268062 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2011 
End 08/2016
 
Description FP_MC_IEF
Amount £154,883 (GBP)
Funding ID PIEF-GA-2010-271987 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 04/2011 
End 03/2013
 
Description IPPP Associateship (Nikolopoulos)
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Durham University 
Department Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP)
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 09/2015
 
Description Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (Nikolopoulos)
Amount € 100,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 334034 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 04/2013 
End 03/2017
 
Description Marie Curie Fellowships
Amount € 78,125 (EUR)
Funding ID FP7-PEOPLE-2012-CIG-334034 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2013 
End 03/2017
 
Description Outreach awards
Amount £41,559 (GBP)
Funding ID 283487 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2011 
End 08/2013
 
Description Royal Society Partnership (Lazzeroni)
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 08/2015
 
Description Standard Proposal
Amount £3,800,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R023220/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 03/2022
 
Description UKIERI Joint Projects
Amount £19,425 (GBP)
Funding ID UKUTP2001100159 
Organisation UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2012 
End 02/2014
 
Description University Research Fellowships (Goudzovski)
Amount £525,769 (GBP)
Funding ID UF100308 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2012 
End 12/2016
 
Description ATLAS 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department ATLAS Collaboration
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution - Large role in construction, operation and upgrade planning of first level calorimeter trigger - Role in construction, operation and upgrade planning of Semiconductor tracker - Major contributions to data analysis and paper preparation in Higgs boson searches and discovery, top, beauty and charm quark physics and diffraction / minimum bias physics - Leadership (e.g. Prof Dave Charlton is the current spokesperson)
Collaborator Contribution Large international collaboration
Impact See elsewhere
 
Description H1 
Organisation Deutsches Electronen-Synchrotron (DESY)
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leadership, data analysis and paper preparation
Collaborator Contribution Large International Caollaboration
Impact See elsewhere (particularly publications)
 
Description ILC 
Organisation International Linear Collider
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Digital calorimeter design and radiation hardness tests. Physics analysis and motivation development ... particularly through involvement in the CALICE and SPIDER projects ...
Collaborator Contribution Large international collaboration.
Impact See elsewhere
 
Description LHCb 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department Large Hadron Collider Beauty Experiment (LHCb)
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Development of detector simulation Support for distributed computing Data analysis and paper preparation in the area of rare beauty baryon decays
Collaborator Contribution Large international collaboration
Impact See elsewhere
Start Year 2011
 
Description LHeC 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department LHeC Future Deep Inelastic Scattering Experiment
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Evaluation of low x physics case Various leadership and steering roles Conference talk and web page coordination
Collaborator Contribution Large international study group
Impact See elsewhere (in particular Conceptual Design Report)
Start Year 2006
 
Description NA62 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department NA62 Rare Kaon-Decay Experiment
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Large role in design and construction of detector, in particular the electronics and readout for the CEDAR Cherenkov detector. Leadership in preparations for data analysis, particularly in the area of searches for charged lepton flavour violation.
Collaborator Contribution Large international collaboration
Impact See elsewhere
 
Title Assembly of multimode pCT scanner 
Description Radiation-hard all-silicon instrument to image with protons as complement to proton radiotherapy 
IP Reference WO2015189603 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact New funding from EPSRC
 
Description A Reconfigurable Monolithic Active Pixel Sensor in Radiation-hard Technology for Outer Tracking and Digital Electromagnetic Calorimetry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 2018 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference, Sydney, Australia, 10th-17th November 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.eventclass.org/contxt_ieee2018/online-program/session?s=N-36#e130
 
Description Amateur scientific societies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 10 presentations of recent results from the LHC at scientific societies and similar bodies since October 2012.

Impact on the enhanced enthusiasm, engagement and understanding of STFC science among members of the public with a strong scientific interest
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
 
Description Big Bang Fair 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Version of the `Understanding the Higgs Boson' stand used at the 2014 Big Bang Fair at the NEC, aimed at schools and general public aged mostly between 9 and 16.

Reached an estimated 5000 visitors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Big Bang Fair 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Reuse of 'Beyond the Higgs Boson Exhibition, first shown at 2014 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Digital Electromagnetic Calorimetry at the FCC-hh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact FCC week 2017, Berlin, May 29th - June 2nd, 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://indico.cern.ch/event/556692/contributions/2465167/
 
Description Discover the Cosmos teachers' workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Dedicated workshop for science school-teachers in which LHC and other particle physics is illustrated using the MINERVA software package, built in Birmingham and derived from the ATLAS event display. About 50 attended.

Improved quality and enthusiasm in teaching of particle physics and other STFC science in schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description FCC-hh Progress on physics and experiment studies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact FCC Week 2016, Rome, Italy, 11th to 15th April, 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://indico.cern.ch/event/438866/contributions/1084937/
 
Description First tests of a reconfigurable depleted MAPS sensor for Digital Electromagnetic Calorimetry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 15th Vienna Conference on Instrumentation, Vienna, Austria, Feb 18th-22nd 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://vci2019.hephy.at/programme/
 
Description Neston School Visit to CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School visit to CERN and meeting with Birmingham undergraduates
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Coordination of successful bid by multiple UK particle physics groups and preparations to provide an `Understanding the Higgs Boson' stand at the 2013 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (to be held in July 2013).

This reached a large volume and cross section of the UK public, including opinion formers, politicians and eminent scientists, increasing their knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for the Higgs boson discovery and other aspects of STFC science
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
URL http://www.understanding-the-higgs-boson.org
 
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Leadership of UK universities consortium in preparations for a `Higgs Boson and Beyond' stand at the 2014 RS Summer Science Exhibition, following on from the successful 2013 version.

Similar audience to 2013 version
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2014/higgs-boson/
 
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Cosmic Ray Detectives' stand at RS summer science exhibition. Estimated audience ~20000
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://sse.royalsociety.org/2015/cosmic-ray-detectives/
 
Description School Talk Sedbergh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presentation on Higgs discovery at Sedbergh School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description School Talk to West Kirby Grammar School for girls 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presentation of state of the art on particle physics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School visits (approximately 20) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Approximately 20 visits to schools were made since October 2012. The usual format is a seminar-style presentation of particle physics and the latest results from the LHC, combined with demonstrations of spark chamber and cloud chamber detectors built at Birmingham University for this purpose.

Impact on the enthusiasm and awareness of STFC science to the next generation of researchers, administrators and taxpayers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
 
Description Talk to Weatherhead High School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk on particle physics to Weatherhead High School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015