Sussex Experimental Particle Physics Capital Equipment 2016

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Mathematical & Physical Sciences


The Sussex EPP group has leading involvement in experimental activities seeking to make extremely sensitive measurements that may answer key questions regarding the nature of matter versus antimatter and fundamental symmetries underlying the laws of physics. These measurements crucially rely on the development of equipment that can operate reliably for extended periods of time under extreme conditions, and with extreme requirements for low contamination levels.

In this capital equipment grant we are requesting funds for a 3D printer capable of generating magnetic-contaminant-free components out of high performance engineering plastics suitable for high-vacuum applications and also potentially for low-radioactivity background measurements. We also seek funds for an environmental chamber capable of stress testing electronics equipment in a range of temperatures and humidity levels before it is deployed in challenging environments that are difficult to access for repair or replacement. In addition, we are requesting funds to enhance our calibration and trigger system capabilities with FPGA technology.

Planned Impact

Members of Sussex Experimental Particle Physics (EPP) group have leading involvement in three high-priority areas of experimental particle physics: LHC physics (ATLAS); neutrino physics; and precision measurements of the properties of the neutron. Secondary research activities of the group include detector R&D for future experiments, and Grid computing. The blue-skies research at the heart of Sussex EPP's activities resonates very favourably with the general public, as demonstrated by regular coverage in national and international media. Experimental particle physics is also the kind of science that tends to attract talented undergraduates to study physics or other science subjects at university level. Therefore, building on our strengths, our impact agenda focuses in large part around public engagement and graduate training. In parallel to these core priorities, the group is dedicated to exploring the potential for extension of state-of-the-art particle physics experimental techniques to other fields, with particular interest in medical physics applications. The group is fortunate to have a number of experienced science communicators; we continue to nurture these skills in our young members, providing speakers and demonstrators to national and international science outreach events such as the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, CERN Open Days, and TEDx. In 2013 and 2014, in collaboration with other UK experimental particle physics groups involved in LHC physics. In 2013, we contributed to the "Discovering the Higgs Boson" stand (Birmingham-led), for which Sussex researchers and technicians (De Santo, Salvatore, White) designed and realized an electronic display of an ATLAS detector "slice". This was animated using purpose-built electronics, and was used to explain the principles of particle detection at a collider. For the 2014 edition of the exhibition, we took part in "The Higgs boson: what next?" stand (co-led by Edinburgh and Birmingham led). For this, De Santo and Salvatore designed and realized a set of soft toys, the "Sussex SUSY Softies", which became very popular at the exhibition and on social media. They became the most "re-tweeted" item on the ATLAS Twitter account (which has more than 20,000 followers) during the week of the 2014 Royal Society exhibition, and had a guest appearance at the 2014 European Researchers' Night in Glasgow. The activities used for the 2013 and 2014 Royal Society exhibitions were also displayed at the 2014 Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, and at the 2014 Brighton Science Festival. More appearances are planned for other science fairs in 2015 and beyond. Another high-impact, Sussex-led public engagement activity is the LHC Sound project, led by Asquith. She has worked with sound engineers on the "sonification" of LHC data, where particles going through different detector layers are each associated to a different sound with a different pitch/volume/timbre according to their momentum/position/type. The project, which was originally funded by an STFC small award in 2010, has caught the attention of the media and the general public. In 2013 Asquith was invited to give a TEDx talk in Zurich, and she gave a public talk at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the same year. In 2014 Asquith gave a public talk on the LHC Sound project at the "A Particle Physics Evening", held at UCL during the BOOST14 conference. Asquith and other Sussex physicists and engineers are currently collaborating with a blind Sussex undergraduate, Daniel Hajas, exploring the potential for incorporating sonification into a tactile event display for non-visual graphics. De Santo and Leming have collaborated with STFC-RAL and Surrey, on the investigation of Particle Physics Experimental Techniques Applied to Time-of-Flight Positron-Electron Tomography. The potential continuation of this project, and its future impact, is being explored with our IPS fellow, Hayhurst.


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