The study of elementary particles and their interactions

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


This grant is to continue the group's 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 the LHC experiments which will be taking data during the period of this grant. The CMS experiment will continue to measure the Higgs particle, following its successful discovery in 2012. It will also be able to cover completely new areas of parameter space in searches for SUSY and other new phenomena such as finding evidence of potential dark matter candidates. The LHCb experiment will offer complementary tests of the Standard Model and beyond with the ability to look for extremely rare decays in flavour physics and to measure CP asymmetries in the decays of B mesons, both of which are sensitive to contributions from new physics. These experiments will make extensive use of Grid computing which the group will continue to develop and exploit, both for the LHC and for other experiments. The group will also be active in preparing the next generation of detectors for the high luminosity upgrade of the LHC.
The T2K experiment will allow us to expand our understanding of the masses and mixings in the neutrino sector, and should provide key measurements which will guide us as to whether we ultimately could see evidence of CP violation in the neutrino sector. One of the other missing pieces of the neutrino puzzle is whether the neutrino is its own antiparticle. We are preparing the SuperNEMO experiment to attempt to determine if the neutrino is a Majorana particle and first data-taking will occur during the grant. Heavy neutrino-like particles are predicted in several new physics models and we are starting preparations for the SHiP experiment to search for these new particles.
The group will be active in several experiments specifically searching for new physics. Direct conversion of muons to electrons is heavily suppressed in the Standard Model so any observation of this process would be a major discovery. The COMET experiment is searching for this process and will take data during the grant. Similarly, a measurable electric dipole moment for the electron could only arise through new physics and the eEDM experiment will continue to push down the limits for such an effect. Around a quarter of the universe is composed of dark matter and its nature is unknown. This has so far remained undetected in the laboratory and the group will continue its activity in searching for direct evidence of a dark matter candidate through the LUX and later LUX-ZEPLIN experiments.
Accelerators to produce muon beams will be needed for future neutrino and muon collider experiments. The group is continuing its research in this area through the MICE experiment and nuSTORM studies. Proton beams also have potential applications for other scientific fields and for healthcare, and the group is studying how to apply these techniques in these areas. Understanding the LHC in terms of phenomenology is critical to comparing data to theory and the group is very active in this area.

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, and transfer and development of accelerator technology. These reach a diverse audience ranging from schoolchildren to cancer practitioners to neutron source users. See the submitted "Pathways To Impact" document for further details.


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Description ZEPLIN-III detector exhibit & Public Lecture at "Whitby & the Cosmos" exhibition, Whitby, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The ZEPLIN-III dark matter detector, which operated at the Boulby Underground Laboratory between 2007 and 2011, was adapted for public display at Imperial College London and donated to the Whitby Museum in late 2018 -- where it became the centrepiece of the topical exhibition "Whitby & the Cosmos". I gave a public lecture entitled "Searching for WIMPs under the Moors" on 15 Feb 2019 to open the event. The ZEPLIN-III instrument will be moved to the permanent collection of the Museum once the exhibition comes to an end in July 2019. Both the exhibition and the public lecture were widely publicised in the local media. The Museum received further support from the Royal Society for this event. The exhibition will receive many thousand of visitors over the coming months. We had the opportunity to donate the instrument to the Science Museum in London, but we chose the Whitby Museum instead to honour a town which hosted the ZEPLIN collaboration for two decades.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019