Capital Equipment for Warwick Particle Physics Programme 2015-2019

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics


The scope of the proposed research lies in three distinct areas: Higgs and new phenomena searches at the ATLAS Experiment; the physics of neutrinos with T2K, LBNE, HyperK and SuperNEMO; generic detector R&D. It also includes Outreach and Knowledge Exchange programmes. In more detail:

o The ATLAS experiment at CERN, a large, general purpose detector operating at the LHC was designed to search for and study the Higgs boson, as well as new exotic forms of matter. Our initial work will be to support the experiment by contributing to its ability to identify interesting events rapidly for recording and further analysis. We will also contribute to the detailed study of the Higgs boson which was discovered in 2012. We will do this by helping to optimise the coeection of events in which it decays to pairs of tau leptons, heavy relatives of the electron. We will also look for other, heavier exotic new bosons.

o The elucidation of the properties of neutrinos. These are very light, neutral particles which are emitted, for example, by the sun, and in radioactive beta decay. They have recently been found to oscillate, ie. transmute from one type to another, while they propagate. We have built part of the T2K experiment which is now operating in Japan. Analyses of its data recently found new types of oscillations of muon to electron type neutrinos. We aim to continue running this experiment, to better measure this newly-discovered effect, and also to search for it with anti-neutrinos. We further plan to contribute to the SuperNEMO experiment, which aims to determine the nature of the neutrino as so called Dirac or Majorana particle. The former has distinct anti-particles, while the latter is its own antiparticle. This question may be resolved by searching for double beta decay accompanied by no neutrinos. We will contribute to the analysis of data obtained by a "demonstrator module" attempting to observe such decays.

o We propose to continue our research and development of position- and energy-sensitive detectors for applications in neutrino experiments and with potential spin-off applications in industry. In particular, we plan to develop a prototype high pressure hydrogen TPC for neutrino physics.

o We will continue to develop our outreach programme which includes activities for local schools
and articles in popular science publications.

o Supported by a strong University strategy and ethos in knowledge exchange, we will continue to pursue all avenues for possible knowledge exchange.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of the proposed research will include:

o UK industry and academic partners from outside particle physics may benefit from the possibility of technological spin-off from hardware and/or software which we propose to develop as part of the research programme. A derivative of our research on future neutrino detectors has been the issue of two IP licenses contracted to a new spin-off company, UVDyne Ltd., since 2014 with the University as main shareholder. Support for all commercial and IP activities on campus is provided by Warwick Ventures - the university's professional subsidiary for commercial advancement and support. Furthermore, our work in developing innovative reconstruction methods for large-scale neutrino detectors has potential beneficiaries from a range of subjects, including mathematics, computer science biological and medical science. Local contacts to the Warwick Computer Science Department exist as well as a collaboration with the Statistics Department in Durham. Another potentially interesting partner has been identified in Systems Biology at Warwick. Societal beneficiaries are being addressed in a new interdisciplinary spin-off launched together with the Warwick Manufacturing Group which researches novel uses of potential future photovoltaic technologies. Generic particle physics software tools are our unique contribution to that effort and it is planned to widen the scope of the initial feasibility study to involve more Departments on campus such as the Warwick Business School and Engineering.

o Local school children and the general public through our outreach programme will learn about cutting-edge research carried out on the building blocks of matter and their fundamental interactions, using state-of the art instrumentation. One of the most effective means of engagement in terms of audience size comes through media coverage. For aspects of our research activity that we feel the public could particularly engage with, we work with the University's Communication Office to issue press releases. This has in the past been successful in generating some rather high profile news coverage e.g. BBC Midlands Today coverage, BBC website items, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio exposure as well as university video content organised by the Communications Office. Members of our group will continue to regularly publicise our science through engagements such as public lectures and talks to local clubs and societies. We will also continue to foster and develop close ties with local schools through: our annual Masterclass and International Masterclass initiative, hosting local schools visits, supervising students for summer holiday placements (e.g. as part of the Gold Crest scheme), activities associated with the STEMNET Science and Engineering Ambassadors (e.g. contributions to science fairs such as the annual Big Bang science fair) and participation in the`I'm a scientist - get me out of here' events.

We will continue to develop our links with schools (both students and teachers) through our close collaboration with the Warwick Physics Department's Ogden Teaching Fellow. Example annual events in which we participate include Faculty Taster Days, Future Scholars events, Teacher and Advisors Conference, National Student Conference Workshops and the Warwick Christmas Science lectures. We have recently gained part ownership of a mobile dome and cloud chamber which will be used as a resource to publicise our research and will, in particular, allow us to expand our outreach activity into primary schools.

o Our post-graduate students enjoy access to a diverse range of key-skills training courses laid on by the University and the Midlands Physics Alliance. We also have a joint studentship with the surface science group to develop innovative photovoltaic and UV sensor technology for immediate commercial applications.


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