The study of elementary particles and their interactions (Consolidated Grant 2019 - 2022)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


This grant is to continue the group's programme of investigation into the properties of elementary particles and the fundamental forces of nature.
One of the main objectives of this grant will be to support the exploitation of the LHC experiments which will be taking data during the period of this grant. The CMS experiment will continue to measure the Higgs particle, following its successful discovery in 2012. It will also be able to extend the parameter space in searches for SUSY and other new phenomena such as finding evidence of potential dark matter candidates. The LHCb experiment will offer complementary tests of the Standard Model and beyond with the ability to look for extremely rare decays in flavour physics and to measure CP asymmetries in the decays of B mesons, both of which are sensitive to contributions from new physics. The group will also be active in preparing the next generation of detectors for the high luminosity upgrade of the LHC.
The T2K long baseline neutrino experiment will allow us to expand our understanding of the masses and mixings in the neutrino sector, and should provide key indications of CP violation in the neutrino sector. The SoLid experiment will take data throughout the grant period and should settle the very short baseline neutrino anomoly. One of the other missing pieces of the neutrino puzzle is whether the neutrino is its own antiparticle. We are preparing the SuperNEMO experiment to attempt to determine if the neutrino is a Majorana particle and first data-taking will occur during the grant. Heavy neutrino-like particles are predicted in several new physics models and we are starting preparations for the SHiP experiment to search for these new particles.
The group will be active in several experiments specifically searching for new physics. Direct conversion of muons to electrons is heavily suppressed in the Standard Model so any observation of this process would be a major discovery. The COMET experiment is searching for this process and will take data during the grant. Similarly, a measurable electric dipole moment for the electron could only arise through new physics and the eEDM experiment will continue to push down the limits for such an effect. Around a quarter of the Universe is composed of dark matter and its nature is unknown. This has so far remained undetected in the laboratory and the group will continue its activity in searching for direct evidence of a dark matter candidate through the LUX-ZEPLIN experiment.
Accelerators to produce muon beams will be needed for future neutrino and muon collider experiments. The group is continuing its research in this area through the nuSTORM studies. Proton beams also have potential applications for other scientific fields and for healthcare, and the group is studying how to apply these techniques in these areas.

Planned Impact

While much of the research described in this grant is exploring fundamental questions where the immediate impact implications of discoveries can take decades to unfold, there are several examples of areas where technology developed in the pursuit of discoveries can have a more immediate impact. The group has potential impact in several key areas; training, outreach, transfer of HEP technology and ideas, and transfer and development of accelerator technology. These reach a diverse audience ranging from schoolchildren to cancer practitioners to neutron source users. See the submitted "Pathways to Impact" document for further details.