Warwick Elementary Particle Physics Capital Equipment 2016

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics


The proposed research will contribute to the design and construction of detectors that will enable measurements to elucidate the nature of fundamental physics and the universe we live in. Warwick has experience of building detector components, which we seek to expand considerably with the modest investments requested here. The devices we intend to design and build will contribute to three distinct areas of science: precision Higgs, Standard Model and new phenomena searches at the LHC, ILC and FCC; the physics of neutrinos with the T2K, LBNE, HyperK and SuperNEMO experiments and CP violation at the LHC, ILC and FCC.

Warwick has invested substantially in this research programme by committing significant lab space, academic/PDRA/student time and, in particular, with the recent appointment of a new physicist engineer and technician. These are experts from a background in both semi-conductor and optical physics.
The equipment requested would have: a) a large, immediate, impact on our research programme and, b) open up significant new physics opportunities. All items requested either do not exist across the Warwick Science Faculty or are not available for general use.

In more detail:

o The Large Hadron Collider was designed to search for the Higgs boson and new exotic forms of matter, motivated by shortcomings of the Standard Model. Now a Higgs boson has been found and the quest continues to understand its exact nature and to search for new phenomena. The laboratory hardware will be used to develop and test new semiconductor devices for the future ATLAS ITk detector. During the current initial stage of ITk assembly, we are establishing ourselves as the leading Quality Assurance and Quality Control group for the ITk silicon strip modules by constructing thermal cycling equipment which requires accurate metrology to understand the effect of heating/cooling. We would use this equipment and expertise in the development of the future International Linear Collider (ILC) and Future Circular Collider (FCC) semiconductor detectors. We will use the requested computing equipment to analyse the data from the experiment. In particular, we will contribute to the precision measurements of the Higgs boson and to searches for new phenomena such as unexpected decays and production mechanisms of the Higgs boson.

o Neutrinos are fundamental particles that may hold the key to an understanding of the early Universe. Our experimental neutrino physics programme aims to measure the fundamental properties of the particle by two different approaches: a) by observing neutrinos change (or `oscillate') from one type into another into via neutrino beam experiments operating on very long baselines (up to 1200 km) ; b) observing very rare neutrinoless double-beta decay processes. A common theme running through much of this work is the application of light-detection and readout as a way of reconstructing the kinematics of a neutrino interaction in a detection medium. To support this work we have established an optical laboratory which, in the past delivered light readout R&D for the T2K project and, is currently supporting our work on a light calibration system for the Hyper-K experiment and readout of the photosensor digitisers for the DUNE project. The requested infrastructure items will allow the expansion of our roles in the construction phase of future projects (e.g. DUNE/Hyper-K) and ensure we continue to play a full part in the analysis of data from T2K and DUNE/Hyper-K prototype detectors.

o Our group is also active in generic detector development which both underpins the experimental programme outlined above and which spawns opportunities for interdisciplinary R&D with potential industrial spin-offs.

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.

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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