Experimental Particle Physics Consolidated Grant 2015

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

Abstract

Particle physics in general and particularly the quest to elucidate the nature of the recently discovered Higgs boson are in the mainstream of current public consciousness. With the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) just about to restart with much extended energy reach to search for new phenomena, there has never been a more exciting time in the field. Birmingham has a balanced programme, exploiting both the full reach of the LHC in energy and precision, as well as other aspects of the unique capabilities of the CERN accelerator complex. 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 leadership positions within the ATLAS collaboration include that of the current Spokesperson. The ATLAS Experiment is designed to explore a wealth of particle physics topics at the highest energies ever reached in the laboratory. Of the billion collisions taking place per second, only a tiny fraction can be permanently recorded and analysed. Our group built, maintains and operates a major part of the highly sophisticated on-detector electronics (trigger system) which has the task of selecting the most interesting events 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 the detailed properties of the Higgs boson and the production and decays of the even more massive top quark. Other studies use LHC data to provide detailed probes of the nature of the strong force holding quarks together inside the proton.

The LHC is expected to operate for a further two decades and to remain the paramount energy frontier facility in particle physics. An ambitious programme to upgrade both accelerator and detectors is underway to hugely increase the collision rate such that every year of operation after the upgrade will deliver the same amount of data as ten years before. This vastly increased amount of data gives unprecedented precision in measuring the properties of the Higgs boson (which only the LHC has the energy to produce) and in testing the theories of how mass arises in the Universe, while also allowing much greater sensitivity to physics beyond our current models. Birmingham is uniquely placed to contribute both to construction of a brand new, much more radiation-hard, tracking detector and to the upgraded trigger to handle the ten times larger data rate.

Beyond ATLAS, our second major 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 studying the tiny differences between the decay characteristics of bottom (b) quarks and their antiquarks. The huge rates of b quark production in LHCb (which is also being upgraded) give very high precision measurements and access to extremely rare decays, the area of particular interest in Birmingham.

Our NA62 group studies the decays of strange particles to also search for new physics such as that suggested by supersymmetric models. The SPS accelerator complex has already restarted after the long shutdown, so NA62 are commissioning their detector and preparing for studies of the ultra rare process in which a kaon decays to produce a pion and two neutrinos. This process occurs only roughly once in every 10 billion kaon decays, but this tiny rate is particularly sensitive to new physics.

Finally, the group contains key proponents of a number of possible future high energy projects, with particular emphasis on electron-positron and electron-proton colliders. We will continue in these leadership roles and be ready to step up our involvement should plans for these, or an even greater energy proton-proton collider, start to become closer to realisation.

Planned Impact

The Birmingham group is internationally leading in its outreach work, introducing particle physics to wide audiences of both the general public and school students. For both, there is a strong appetite to understand the basic building blocks of nature and the LHC has captured their imagination more than any previous scientific endeavour. Our work with schools (including spark chamber demonstrations) provides an exciting format for engaging students. As the IoP and other bodies have demonstrated, one effect of the high profile developed through particle physics outreach work has been a measurable increase in the numbers of students applying to study physics at University.

We provide UK leadership to the International Particle Physics Outreach Group and for International Masterclasses with one of us holding an STFC Public Engagement Fellowship. The group has applied its leading work in the development of the ATLANTIS event visualisation program to produce the MINERVA outreach tool, a simplified version of which allows the public to view ATLAS data and search for different event signatures. This Masterclass format has now been replicated nationwide and internationally, reaching over a thousand students per year across Europe and the USA. Our 'Learning with ATLAS at CERN' EU Outreach Project and the follow-up 'Discover the Cosmos' help individuals and students engage with our outreach material, while providing the basis for trained teachers to develop new resources. As well as the spark chamber, we have also developed a cosmic telescope and a large cloud chamber, which are demonstrated or loaned out to local schools and used in exhibitions.

We have provided strong support on particle physics to the Royal Society Summer Exhibitions for each of the last four years and also in 2014 were linked with the "Treating Cancer" exhibition of the Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications (PRaVDA) consortium. We also regularly appear in local, national and international TV, radio and printed media, particularly to talk about the LHC and the Higgs boson. These have ranged from the Sun newspaper to Newsnight and Reuters.

In knowledge transfer, the group constantly seeks opportunities to collaborate with partners beyond particle physics, especially based around our technical work in the areas of silicon detectors and electronics. In this context, we keep in close contact with the University's Knowledge and Technology Transfer network and with the Manufacturing Technology Catapult Centre (MTC), which was set up by the regional development agency and is part-owned by the University. Our semiconductor detector assembly facility has led to various knowledge exchange projects. Building on our expertise we are investigating applications of our ultrasonic wire bonding to implantable electrical interfaces to the nervous system. This could lead to control systems for prosthetic limbs, providing amputees with significantly increased control over their movement and a restored sense of touch and of limb position.

Further potential spin-offs are anticipated through the major expansion in our silicon detector capabilities. Initially these will build on Birmingham's involvement in the Wellcome Trust funded PRaVDA project, developing precision detectors and dosimetry for use in proton beam radiotherapy. This project makes extensive use of the Birmingham MC40 cyclotron for detector testing and radiation tolerance characterisation, something which we anticipate exploiting at a higher level in future. We expect to see follow-up funding in support of delivering monitoring systems to the new NHS proton therapy facilities at Christie Hospital Manchester and University College Hospital London. There are also plans for future collaborations to develop ionising radiation detectors in the context of novel accelerator concepts for medical applications, working closely with the experts in Medical Physics at the University Hospital Birmingham.

Publications

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Aaboud M (2016) Measurement of the photon identification efficiencies with the ATLAS detector using LHC Run-1 data. in The European physical journal. C, Particles and fields

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Aaboud M (2016) Search for Higgs and Z Boson Decays to ?? with the ATLAS Detector. in Physical review letters

 
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 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 Horizon 2020
Amount € 10,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID GA no. 654168 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2015 
End 05/2019
 
Description STFC CASE
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/P002552/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2020
 
Description STFC Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy
Amount £914,987 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/N002423/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 06/2019
 
Description AIDA 2020 
Organisation Advanced European Infrastructures for Detectors at Accelerators (AIDA)
Country Switzerland 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution Provision of Transnational Access Facility MC40
Collaborator Contribution 10 MEuro Partnership on Detector R&D
Impact Radiation hardness of two CMOS prototypes for the ATLAS HL-LHC upgrade project / Huffman, B T (U. Oxford (main)) ; Affolder, A (U. Liverpool (main)) ; Arndt, K (U. Oxford (main)) ; Bates, R (Glasgow U.) ; Benoit, M (U. Geneva (main)) ; Di Bello, F (U. Geneva (main)) ; Blue, A (Glasgow U.) ; Bortoletto, D (U. Oxford (main)) ; Buckland, M (U. Liverpool (main) ; CERN) ; Buttar, C (Glasgow U.) et al. The LHC luminosity upgrade, known as the High Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC), will require the replacement of the existing silicon strip tracker and the transistion radiation tracker. Although a baseline design for this tracker exists the ATLAS collaboration and other non-ATLAS groups are exploring the feasibility of using CMOS Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors (MAPS) which would be arranged in a strip-like fashion and would take advantage of the service and support structure already being developed for the upgrade. [...] AIDA-2020-PUB-2016-011.- Geneva : CERN, 2016 - 14 p. - Published in : J. Instrum. 11 (2016) C02005 IOP Open Access article: PDF; In : Topical Workshop on Electronics for Particle Physics, Lisbon, Portugal, 28 Sep - 2 Oct 2015, pp.C02005
Start Year 2015
 
Description ATLAS ITK 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department CERN LHC ATLAS
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Chair of the Institute Board with 100 international members
Collaborator Contribution International programme on Tracker Upgrade with 100 institutes from 22 countries working towards the 120MCHF (equipment costs only does not include salaries) main upgrade programme of ATLAS for the HL-LHC
Impact Particle Physics
Start Year 2017
 
Description ELIGHT 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department CERN - Other
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Proton Therapy within PRaVDA and STFC Network+
Collaborator Contribution See link below
Impact Hadron radiotherapy and novel detector developments.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Global Challenge Network+ in Advanced Radiotherapy 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am one of the project managers for the Network+.
Collaborator Contribution Led from the Christie Hospital
Impact http://ctrad.ncri.org.uk/events/ion-beam-therapy-clinical-scientific-and-technical-challenges
Start Year 2016
 
Description "Task 11.5: UoB MC40 Cyclotron, United Kingdom" (AIDA-2020 First Annual Workshop, DESY 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Horizon 2020 European Union funded AIDA-2020 proposal (GA no. 654168) with €10M in support of detector R&D
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://aida2020.web.cern.ch/content/uob
 
Description CMOS Sensors for Future Applications 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-organised workshop and presented on DECAL MAPS
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://indico.cern.ch/event/477242/
 
Description Detector R&D for Collider and Underground Experiments 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact EPS-HEP Conference 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://eps-hep2017.eu/
 
Description Detector Technologies for Future Colliders (Strategic Workshop on High Energy Particle Physics, Zurich 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation and seminar at workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description FCC conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Plenary Presentation to the FCC Meeting on Rome on the FCC-hh Detector Concept
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://indico.cern.ch/event/438866/
 
Description From Hadron Colldiers to Hadron Therapy Seminar RHUL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact HEP Group Seminar
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description From Higgs to Healthcare (Oxford University Seminar) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Seminar Oxford Physics Department
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description LHC Detector Upgrades 10th Annual Meeting of the Helmholtz Alliance "Physics at the Terascale", Hamburg 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at DESY
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
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 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 Silicon Tracking Detectors for Hadron Beam Monitoring and Imaging (Ion Beam Therapy: Clinical, Scientific and Technical Challenges, Birmingham 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Organiser and presenter at workshop on applications of particle physics technologies to hadron radiotherapy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://ctrad.ncri.org.uk/events/ion-beam-therapy-clinical-scientific-and-technical-challenges
 
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