The study of elementary particles and their interactions.

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Physics


This grant is to continue the groups programme of investigation into the properties of elementary particles and the fundamental forces of nature. One of the main objectives of this grant will be to support the exploitation of three new experiments which will be taking data during the period of this grant. The CMS experiment will break new ground in studying the constituents of matter and their interactions, hoping to observe the Higgs particle and understand the origins of mass, as well as searching for new phenomena, such as finding evidence of potential dark matter candidates. The LHCb experiment will offer complementary tests of the Standard Model with the ability to look for extremely rare decays in flavour physics which are sensitive to contributions from new physics, as well as measuring CP violation in the decays of B mesons. Both these experiments will make extensive use of Grid computing which the group will continue to develop and exploit.
The T2K experiment will allow us to expand our understanding of the masses and mixings in the neutrino sector, and should provide a key measurement which will guide us as to whether we ultimately could see evidence of CP violation in the neutrino sector. Follow on experiments looking to measure CP violation in neutrinos would require a dedicate neutrino factory, and the group is heavily involved in understanding the issues in preparing an accelerator for such a facility. One of the other missing pieces of the neutrino puzzle is whether the neutrino is its own anti-particle. This grant will support preparation of a future experiment to attempt to determine if the neutrino is a Majorana particle.
The universe may be largely composed of Dark Matter which until now remains un-detected. The group will continue is activity in searching for direct evidence of a dark matter candidate.
Accelerators which are used in particle physics also have potential applications for energy, and healthcare, and the group will continue its research into how to apply techniques which have benefit for future research accelerators as well as applied use of accelerators.
The group will also be active in preparing the next generation of detectors for future facilities, both at the high luminosity upgrade of the LHC, as well as for other future colliders.
In addition the group will be collaborating on preparing a space based experiment designed to search for evidence of gravitational waves, as well as a new accelerator based experiment to look for charged lepton flavour violation.

Planned Impact

While much of the research described in this grant is exploring fundamental questions where the immediate impact implications of discoveries can take decades to unfold, there are many examples of areas where technology developed in the pursuit of discoveries can have a more immediate impact. The group has potential impact in several key areas; Training, outreach, transfer of HEP technology and ideas, transfer and development of accelerator technology. These impacts reach a diverse audience ranging from schoolchildren to cancer practitioners to Neutron source users.

Although training primarily acts as an "Academic" impact, it is clear that the most direct impact of the research the group performs is the steady stream of highly trained physicists who we develop. Our graduates are highly sought after in industry and academia for the skills which they learn whilst pursuing degrees which require a high level of competence in data analysis and detector development and understanding

The group is involved in fundamental research which has a high media visibility, and also a very high level of public interest. Results from the LHC regularly feature in the national and international news, and many members of the group have been visible in the media describing the results and the science that the group is pursuing. Engagement with the media has been expedited with the assistance of the Imperial College and STFC media teams.

In addition to impact on the general public, the research has also demonstrated a clear impact on young people who are encouraged to enter science disciplines. In order to nurture this, the group has run an annual Masterclass for schools, and will continue to do so. This offers an excellent opportunity to expose young people to the research which they are excited by in the media, and to meet the researchers who are actively engaged in this activity.

This group has a history of transferring ideas from High Energy Physics into industrial developments. Much of this work has been led by the team of J. Hassard, and supported by the Imperial College "Incubator" for knowledge transfer. Hassard has focussed most of his energies into showing how particle physics can be applicable in diverse areas, most notable in separation sciences like genomics, proteomics and producing analytical tools for chemistry, and more recently in e-science based air quality sensing. Since 1999, he has led a cross disciplinary team, first based in Imperial College and more recently in spin-outs (deltaDOT Ltd, Duvas Technologies, deltaDOT QSTP-LLC, Object Optronics Limited), totalling some 70 research scientists (of whom over 30 are PhDs) covering 12 distinct disciplines. At the heart of this technology are approaches based entirely on vertexing of heavy quarks and pattern recognition programs written for low pT tracking at the LHC and the separation of different channels in B-meson decay.

The group's work in accelerator R&D has several potential impacts on diverse communities. The work on the Front End Test Stand (FETS) which the group is leading has the goal of providing higher power proton sources. The multi-megawatt sources which are being developed have a wide potential set of beneficiaries, including ISIS users, and potentially sub-critical nuclear reactors. This work is being done in partnership with ISIS, and the group will continue to strengthen this ongoing relationship with the national facility.

The other area where we are directly pursuing impact from accelerator technology is in the area of Hadron therapy. Exploring how improvements in accelerator technology can be translated into improvements in patient care is vital in understanding how to maximize the impact of this technology into cancer care. Recognizing this, we have recently created a new lectureship position which is a funded through a partnership with the Imperial College Medical School, and the Cockroft Institute.


10 25 50
Description Large number of measurements and discoveries as evidenced in the publications.
Exploitation Route Yes in providing constraints on future fundamental physics measurements
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Public Engagement, impact on other academic disciplines.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Impact Types Cultural,Societal