Capital Equipment in connection with the Sheffield particle physics CG 2015

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Now is an exceptional time for discoveries in particle physics and particle astrophysics. The equipment proposal made here is designed to support the research we wish to conduct at Sheffield that is at the heart of this endeavor. It is closely associated with our STFC consolidated grant programme request for the period 2015-2019. Foremost amongst our work recently has been involvement in the discovery by ATLAS of a Higgs boson particle. Members of the group led and helped to develop the key 4-lepton analysis upon which the discovery was based. This work will continue but, preparing for the future, the equipment we are seeking will be critical to expanding our generic role in the ATLAS upgrade programme to build key components of a new ATLAS tracker. Our involvement in the T2K experiment in Japan also greatly benefited from confirmation of a non-zero third neutrino mixing angle, a result fundamental to our understanding of the neutrino. The group's respected work in neutrino analyses for T2K, particularly of so-called charge current and neutral current events, will also continue. However, here, bolstered by the exciting new results, our capital request is key to allowing us to participate in next generation long baseline neutrino experiments for CP violation aimed to unravel the mystery of antimatter in the Universe, notably using LBNE/F in the US and Hyper-K in Japan. For these our particular focus will be on detector construction and the requested equipment will be critical to underpinning this. For instance, we plan leading work on the precursor LAr1-ND experiment at Fermilab where we will construct the central Anode Plane Array for the detector. In parallel we need to expand our pioneering liquid argon R&D. The purifier and impurity monitoring apparatus requested will allow us to produce leading results in this area, for instance on the physics of charge transport in liquid argon. This will also allow us to establish novel detector prototypes at the new CERN-based neutrino platform and for LBNE/F itself. For particle astrophysics we plan to develop new efforts on detection of dark matter, thought to comprise 90% of the Universe. There is strong motivation here because the US LUX experiment recently produced a step-change in sensitivity to dark matter particles. Supporting our computing hardware will enable us to lead analysis for the EDELWEISS experiment and then lead key simulations for the upcoming LZ experiment in the US. Our pioneering work on detectors with sensitivity to galactic signatures can also be supported this way. This includes the DRIFT direction sensitive experiment at Boulby and the new DM-ICE250 NaI experiment, which US collaborators recently agreed will be hosted at Boubly to seek an annual modulation signal for dark matter. Meanwhile, our generic detector R&D and knowledge exchange programme is vital to underpinning the group's expertise and skills-base. The requested equipment focused on radio-assay of materials is required so that we can maintain leading studies of rare backgrounds that hinder many rare-event experiments, but that also have relevance in industry. For instance radon detection. This can benefit from our historic links to the Boulby deep underground science laboratory. Other areas that can benefit from the capital programme, particularly in the electronics items requested, include our muon tomography projects for climate change, spin-out work on novel motor control electronics and our novel welding technology. The latter requires, in particular, the new state of the art workshop machines requested. Our long-standing efforts to develop liquid argon technology for neutrino physics are also relevant to medical imaging requirements. The data acquisition and analytical instrumentation requested can greatly aid this to complete a new prototype instrument, building on MRC investment, as well for our core neutrino programme.

Planned Impact

Many of the requested equipment items are critical for our impact-generating projects. Our work on advanced welding concepts spun out from ATLAS is enabling multi-million-pound profits from U.K. company VBCie through the development of InterPulse welding techniques, enabling contracts for VBCie with Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, and securing selection of VBCie InterPulse welding methods for ATLAS and CMS upgrade engineering. This work has led to world sales of £2.87M to date. Our request for HAAS DS-30 Dual Spindle Turning centre in particular, supports hardware prototype assembly which will strengthen this research and increase impact. We have also developed a pioneering controller for improving the efficiency and performance of permanent magnet and induction motors; the University is funding the patent application here. The aim is a potential cost savings in motor controllers and improved efficiency in the motors themselves. Our request for a Network Analyser supports this work, particularly a heterodyning prototype suitable for the communications industry, for instance to enhance bandwidth for controller applications at higher frequencies, particularly a heterodyning prototype with a planned frequency coverage of 4GHz and a bandwidth of 100MHz, suitable for the communications industry. Multiple projects using cosmic ray muons have also been undertaken by us, notably muon tomography for carbon capture and storage using public/private funding. Also of note is application of our knowledge base in muon detection to deliver muon detectors for portal detector prototypes for the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Several of the capital items will aid this as well as our projects on neutron activation analysis for detection of explosives in cargo; this work has led to the acquisition and commissioning of a new pulsed thermal neutron source facility, impacting UK industry, notably The Welding Institute. Sheffield is also a provider to the EU FP7 SafeHPower project, delivering neutron flux and radiography for assessment of pressure vessels for hydrogen fuel systems. A novel thermal neutron detector using boron nitride for neutron capture, eliminating the need for scarce Lithium-6 or Helium-3 based detectors, is also part of this programme. This technology impacts future neutron detectors for security applications. The requested neutron generator is crucial for further work in this area. We are also applying expertise in liquid Argon physics to medical instrumentation applications, developing a liquid argon test stand for prototype imaging GPMTs. Target applications include positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Here superior energy and position resolution promises higher image fidelity and reduced patient radiation doses. The requested He leak checker and purity instrumentation supports this argon R&D but also our work with Durridge, Inc., who have spun out a Sheffield-University-Based U.K. subsidiary to develop RadTrack, a new radon assay instrument. The RadTrack detector will utilize technology developed in collaboration with Sheffield for measuring radon and other background levels in the Boulby underground laboratory. The request for an alpha particle counter is important for this development. Meanwhile we have also developed a high pressure CO2 based cooling system as an alternative to CFC based existing technology. This can be applied in aerospace applications. Much of the workshop machine request can supports this, such as for the precision titanium machining that is critical to prototyping of the new high pressure CO2 cooling technology. Exploitation of contacts with the Shadow Robot Company, Ltd. and our expertise in radiation monitoring, can benefit from this notably with impact on research into highly dexterous robot manipulators for high radiation environments. This work has potential applications in accelerator engineering and the nuclear industry.


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