Experimental Particle Physics Consolidated Grant (2012-2016)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Experimental particle physics studies extremely small sizes, or equivalently extremely high energies. We seek to understand the underlying nature of the physical universe in terms of fundamental forces and particles. This knowledge underpins our quest to answer some of the biggest questions in science, such as how our universe originated and evolved from the Big Bang.

Experiments capable of reaching these extremes of energy & size are very technically demanding. The challenges include devising precision detectors which can operate in hostile environments, particle accelerators which can collide beams at very high energies, super-sensitive detectors capable of identifying very rare decays, high-speed electronics which can read out millions of pieces of information per second & software which can analyse petabytes of data in a distributed fashion. Particle physics thereby stimulates a variety of important technological developments.

This is a "consolidated grant", underpinning the base of highly skilled research & technical staff which allows UCL to lead projects at the very highest levels. It provides the support that allows the group to effectively train PhD students & young post-doctoral researchers. The science this grant will support includes:

- Understanding the mechanism that gives particles mass by searching for new fundamental particles such as the Higgs boson with the ATLAS experiment at the LHC. In the event of such a discovery, measuring the properties of the Higgs boson will be critical. Cross checking with precision measurements from the Tevatron collider will allow a powerful consistency check of the standard model of particle physics.

- Understanding why we live in a universe that is dominated by matter with only a tiny anti-matter component, in contrast to the conditions immediately following the Big Bang. We will study in detail the properties of the neutrino, which is a stable, uncharged, almost massless particle released in radioactive beta decays. The neutrino is being studied with the MINOS experiment. UCL is also completing the construction of the SuperNEMO experiment, which will search for the incredibly rare process whereby two simultaneous beta-decays occur inside the nucleus. Examining such decays will yield fundamental insights into the nature of the neutrino.

- Searching for phenomena at extremely high energies, well beyond the reach of man-made accelerators like the LHC. We are searching for the interactions of ultra-high energy neutrinos in the Antarctic ice using the ANITA experiment & we are preparing for experiments that will search for the exceedingly rare process whereby a muon (a heavier version of the electron) spontaneously converts into an electron.

- Developing new accelerator and detector technologies for future experiments. We need to build higher energy colliders, and giant detectors able to detect neutrino beams fired over large distances, as well as 10-times larger underground detectors to continue the search for rare processes. These crucial science goals require the realisation of new detectors with unprecedented performance and which can be scaled-up effectively and affordably.

- Sharing the results of our work with other scientists and industry. Our accelerator and radiation measurement expertise can be applied to the fields of nuclear medicine and security. We also cooperate with instrument manufacturers in order to develop better products for our own research and for other scientific and industrial users.

Some of this work is funded on other grants but is underpinned by the technical expertise that is supported by this consolidated grant. Continuity & support for the technical base in the UCL High Energy Physics Group is vital to progress the science & the benefits that it brings.

Planned Impact

Particle physicists undertake basic research at the frontier of knowledge. Our audience consists not only of fellow physicists
but scientists and non-scientists alike who share a curiosity for the results of our research.

We know, for example from studies of university applications, that particle physics is one of the most frequently cited motivations for school pupils to study physics at A-level and beyond. Our research, and in particular the presentation of our research to public audiences, is therefore a crucial factor in encouraging young people to study the physical sciences at a time when the UK economy needs many more science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates. The UCL group reaches out to public audiences through highly effective work in schools and science fairs and also in national print and broadcast media.

Although the fruits of particle physics research do not (yet!) have any direct applications, the instruments required to perform experiments in high-energy physics have historically and continue to generate significant innovation that has wider impact. For example nuclear medicine relies on radiation detection technology originally developed for nuclear and particle physics experiments. A new branch of nuclear medicine is the use of hadron beams to deliver radiation doses with far greater precision and far less collatoral damage than conventional radiotherapy. The UCL particle physics group is involved in efforts to transfer expertise in laboratory based proton accelerators to help deliver better understood proton beams for such medical applications, with the
corresponding potential benefits to patients that this might bring.

Another impact of our research is in the security arena.We are developing novel radiation detectors that may be used to discover and monitor nuclear materials, as well as using cosmic rays to see inside hidden spaces.

UCL particle physicists are committed to disseminating the results of their research as widely and effectively as possible, ensuring that anyone with an interest in our work - be it professional interest or simply personal curiosity - has the chance to learn more about what we do.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Title Laboratory of Dark Matters 
Description An exhibition of new artworks by 10 artists responding to dark matter research installed at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum for 6 weeks. Research information was provided in the gallery in the form of A4 sheets and A3 folders with sections on dark matter research, Boulby Underground Laboratory, Scientist profiles and the artworks on display. Four Cloud Chamber workshops and two Phosphorescence Workshops with hands-on creative activities and demonstrations were run by the artists. Gallery tours, Talks and Q&A with scientists and artists, a Private View event for local VIP's and museum community and an open day event with dark matter themed games, quizzes and activities that were cross-generational and fun. Participating artists: Amy Gear, Daniel Clark, Elizabeth Murton, Kate Fahey, Luci Eldridge, Melanie King, Peter Glasgow, Sarah Gillett, Susan Eyre, Robert Good. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Opening people's eyes to the mysteries of the universe and the pleasure of discovery by offering a unique experience in a hard to reach area. As a result of the project artists have been invited to speak at events such as The Royal Society discussion Cultures Combined: Art and Science, June 2017; the Institute of Physics INTERACT Conference Birmingham 2017; to curate IAmSciArt twitter feed November 2017; to show artwork at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool April 2018; to participate in Deptford X exhibition and join artists collective by cloud chamber workshop participants at Guest Projects; write project Blog for IOP Aug 2017; collaborate on Dark Matter Day public discussion/reading group with UCL High Energy Physics PhD students October 2017; invited by Yinka Shonibare to join judging panel at Guest Projects to review and vote on new proposals for 2018; approached by The Royal Holloway University to collaborate on an event for Dark Matter Day 2018. Courtyard billboard artwork 'How To Know The Starry Heavens' at Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum has remained up so the work is being seen for a much longer duration than originally planned. Cloud chamber workshop model copied for a school programme by workshop participant. Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum have been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding for a major expansion project and they believe Laboratory of Dark Matters helped secure this as the awarding body took an interest in the exhibition and events which showed diversity and new audience engagement. Ours was the first contemporary art exhibition they had ever hosted but now the museum will have a dedicated gallery in the new build with new ties to local artists and a programme of exhibitions. A project website with links to further information. A publication giving an overview of dark matter, Boulby Underground Laboratory, the artists responses and artworks. Contacts made for future art/science collaborations. Artists have learnt a lot about dark matter and related theories that will feed their practices. Workshop leaders have tried and tested workshop plans they can offer elsewhere. For some it was learning a complete new set of skills running a workshop and this has given confidence to do more projects of this sort. We have gained valuable new tools in the communication of ideas across disciplines and skills in project management, planning, negotiating & collaborating with diverse and remote institutions. Relationships of support & co-operation have been built between artists and scientists that will be the foundation for future projects. 
URL http://www.laboratoryofdarkmatters.com
 
Title Perspectives On The Unknown 
Description Perspectives on the Unknown is a short documentary film that investigates a scientific discovery known as dark matter and dark energy, which fills up over 95% of the Universe and yet remains as the unknown. The film tries to present different perspectives on this invisible matter by questioning how scientists deal with this mysterious matter, and how artists interpret this unknown. The film features two artists, Alison Gill and Julie Mecoli, with a physics academic, Dr. Chamkaur Ghag from department Physics and Astronomy at the University College London. This project is a collaborative project with Roger Stabbins and Thomas Deacon. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has led to further enquiries from students in the arts, and organisation of a visit tot the Boulby Underground Laboratory in 2016 where several national artists will group and develop proposals for further collaborative work. The intention is that this would result in a travelling exhibit. 
URL https://vimeo.com/123613759
 
Description We have made major progress across our programe, which has involved studies of the Higgs boson at the LHC as well as the design and construction of future neutrino, muon and dark matter experiments, all aimed at answering fundamental questions in particle physics. We have trained a generation of PhD students and further developed the careers of post-doctoral researchers, engineers and technicians.
Exploitation Route Our findings in this grant period will help to guide future developments in the field of particle physics. Certain detector technologies that we have developed may have very useful applications elsewhere, for example in the field of medical physics, and we are actively involved in pursuing such applications.
Sectors Education,Healthcare

 
Description Communicating the results of our research is an integral part of what we do. We are heavily engaged with the print and broadcast media, and we make strenous efforts to engage pupils from local schools. See Engagement Activities for more details.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Chair of STFC's Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Membership of STFC Science Board's Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.stfc.ac.uk/about-us/how-we-are-governed/advisory-boards-panels-committees/particle-astrop...
 
Title Development of lead shields 
Description In partnership with UK industry (Lead Shield Engineering) we have developed new designs for low background radiation shields for use with gamma spectroscopy detectors. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact These designs have been realised with lead and copper shields manufactured by Lead Shield Engineering UK for the Boulby Underground Laboratory, the AWE, and others. 
URL http://www.lead-shield.co.uk/
 
Title Trace radioactivity analyses with ICP-MS 
Description Development of methods for trace uranium and thorium radioactivity analyses with ICP-MS using microwave digestion 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have been able to assay materials to levels of less than 10 ppt (g/g) for uranium-238 and thorium-232 
 
Title Trace radioactivity measurements 
Description Improvements to trace radioactivity measurements in material samples using underground gamma spectroscopy and surface mass spectrometry. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have provided low level radioactivity measurements for rare event search experiments with UK involvement but also to industry; in particular SSI, and Photek Ltd for the enhancement of their products supplied commercially to UK and international consumers. 
URL http://www.boulby.stfc.ac.uk/Boulby/Projects/39343.aspx
 
Description Light Detector Development 
Organisation ENVINET
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We continue to work with Hamamatsu, for example testing some of their new products such as Quartz Photon Intensifying Detectors (QUPIDs). Providing feedback to the manufacturers of such products yields benefits across the physics community and beyond. We also maintain close contact with another PMT supplier, ET Enterprises (Uxbridge, UK) and work closely on material characterisation with ELJEN (Texas, USA) and ENVINET (Czech Rep.) who supply the plastic scintillators for SuperNEMO. Such high light-output plastic scintillators have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Collaborator Contribution Delivery of prototype devices for characterisation by us.
Impact New devices for use in particle physics instrumentation, and which have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Light Detector Development 
Organisation ET Enterprises
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We continue to work with Hamamatsu, for example testing some of their new products such as Quartz Photon Intensifying Detectors (QUPIDs). Providing feedback to the manufacturers of such products yields benefits across the physics community and beyond. We also maintain close contact with another PMT supplier, ET Enterprises (Uxbridge, UK) and work closely on material characterisation with ELJEN (Texas, USA) and ENVINET (Czech Rep.) who supply the plastic scintillators for SuperNEMO. Such high light-output plastic scintillators have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Collaborator Contribution Delivery of prototype devices for characterisation by us.
Impact New devices for use in particle physics instrumentation, and which have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Light Detector Development 
Organisation Eljen Corporation
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We continue to work with Hamamatsu, for example testing some of their new products such as Quartz Photon Intensifying Detectors (QUPIDs). Providing feedback to the manufacturers of such products yields benefits across the physics community and beyond. We also maintain close contact with another PMT supplier, ET Enterprises (Uxbridge, UK) and work closely on material characterisation with ELJEN (Texas, USA) and ENVINET (Czech Rep.) who supply the plastic scintillators for SuperNEMO. Such high light-output plastic scintillators have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Collaborator Contribution Delivery of prototype devices for characterisation by us.
Impact New devices for use in particle physics instrumentation, and which have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Light Detector Development 
Organisation PMT Hamamatsu Photonics K.K.
Country Japan 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We continue to work with Hamamatsu, for example testing some of their new products such as Quartz Photon Intensifying Detectors (QUPIDs). Providing feedback to the manufacturers of such products yields benefits across the physics community and beyond. We also maintain close contact with another PMT supplier, ET Enterprises (Uxbridge, UK) and work closely on material characterisation with ELJEN (Texas, USA) and ENVINET (Czech Rep.) who supply the plastic scintillators for SuperNEMO. Such high light-output plastic scintillators have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Collaborator Contribution Delivery of prototype devices for characterisation by us.
Impact New devices for use in particle physics instrumentation, and which have a wide range of medical and security applications.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Event Horizon Cafe Scientifique 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact 30 people attended a Cafe Scientifique event organised by UCL undergraduate students where I talked about the search for Dark Matter in our Universe. Impact that has arisen since includes requests for more information on how to conduct further studies or apply for PhD and postgraduate positions in the field of Dark Matter and particle physics in general.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/events/197495787252785/
 
Description "Smashing Physics" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The book "Smashing Physics" by Jon Butterworth was published in 2014 and so far has world-wide sales in excess of 25,000. It has had a major impact on the public understanding and public perceptions of High Energy Physics, and is frequently cited by applicants to undergraduate physics programs at UCL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Article in Cosmos magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Featured in a Cosmos Magazine article about the search for Dark Matter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://cosmosmagazine.com/physical-sciences/ghost-traps-hunt-dark-matter
 
Description BBC Today programme feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio feature discussing UK particle physics and involvement in 'Beyond Standard Model' experiments including Dark Matter searches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03kpnjl
 
Description Forbes magazine article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 5000 views of this article discussing Dark Matter experiments with UK involvement, where I discuss the implications of new results. This article led to changes in opinion of the readers as documented by the comments on the website, and further enquiries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridaineparnell/2013/11/07/why-the-lux-results-matter-to-dark-matter-and...
 
Description IOP Physics World article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article in Physics World magazine about underground science including Dark Matter searches. This article highlighted activities at the UK's Boulby Underground Laboratory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/2015/may/07/subterranean-science
 
Description IOP Physics World article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article highlighting the selection of the next generation of experiments in the search for Dark Matter, including LZ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/jul/15/dark-matter-searches-get-us-government-approval
 
Description Light and Dark TV series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a major BBC production broadcast on TV in two-parts, hosted by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. It featured a section on Dark Matter where I discussed underground experimental techniques.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jrxhv
 
Description Naked Scientists Radio and Podcast feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio and Podcast feature by the Naked Scientists discussing Dark Matter searches. This feature led to several further media enquiries and questions from the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/naked-scientists/show/20150602/
 
Description New Scientist Public Event 
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 270 members of the general public attended a Particle Physics Experts Masterclass organised by New Scientist. I was one of the 5 experts, presenting Dark Matter including the LZ experiment, and I was a member of the panel for a Q&A session. There was significant interest during the ticketed event (£150 per person), and outcomes that have arisen since include contact from schools and students regarding Dark Matter for their school projects, and contact from the media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/instant-expert-mysteries-of-particle-physics-tickets-19713709235?aff=n...
 
Description Particle Physics Masterclass 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School pupils (mostly year 12) take part in a day of particle physics: some talks, a hands-on exercise in identifying and analysing Higgs candidates using ATLAS event display software, and finally a video conference to discuss the results with researchers at CERN and students at similar masterclasses across Europe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016
 
Description Public Lecture at Second Home 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Approximately 70 people that work at or operate from Second Home, London, attended a talk about Dark Matter that focused on technologies. Second Home houses numerous technology firms and businesses and this talk led to several questions about potential socioeconomic impact of particle physics and Dark Matter experiments, and potential areas for collaborative research and spin-offs. It has also led to arrangement of a trip to Boulby Underground Laboratory in 2016, where I will host 10 artists from across the UK on an underground tour of the science facility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/events/1498288067129210/
 
Description Radio 5 Live feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dark Matter feature on Radio 5 live, highlighting UK research. This feature led to enquiries from the general public and other media outlets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b043wvt9
 
Description Radio feature on Newsdrive 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on BBC Newsdrive discussing UK involvement in international Dark Matter search experiments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zdylq
 
Description School Visit (Newham Collegiate College, London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Particle physics seminar focussing on searched for beyond the standard model physics, particularly for dark matter signatures. Approximately 40 students attended, and there was considerable interest afterwards with questions, discussion, and follow up emails to me.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Science Broadcasting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the UCL HEP group have made numerous broadcast media appearances, for example The Naked Scientists, Radio 5, BBC Today Programme, Light & Dark TV Series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
 
Description Science Journalism 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many members of the group supported by the UCL HEP Consolidated Grant have prepared articles for national print and broadcast media. Jon Butterworth has a particularly high profile including a Science Blog on the Guardian, but there are countless other examples.

A substantial increase in interest in scientific developments in the field of particle physics from the wider public. The UK has been at the forefront of disseminating research at CERN, especially related to the Higgs boson discovery, and UCL scientists have played a leading role in that.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016