Consolidated Grant for the Centre for Particle Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Physics


Experimental particle physics addresses some of the fundamental
questions about the structure and behaviour of the Universe at the
level of the smallest particles of matter, the quarks and the leptons,
and the forces acting between them. We are exploring fundamental
properties of particles at the the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and
also exploring the nature of dark matter and neutrinos by developing
and employing novel detection systems.

We are contributing to the continued operation of the ATLAS project at
the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. We have constructed and
commissioned electronic systems and the software that drives them.
From the beginning of data taking we have played a leading role in
searches for exotic particles, the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson,
and studies of properties of the top quark. We are heavily invested in the
upgrades to the ATLAS detector, which will allow for the collection of
large datasets starting in 2021.

Although there is ample indirect evidence for the existence of dark
matter as inferred from its gravitational interactions, it has not yet
been directly detected in terrestrial laboratories. Direct detection
experiments seek to observe dark matter scattering on target detector
nuclei. We explore these issues through a world-leading dark matter
search on DEAP-3600, a liquid Argon detector with unique potential
for scaling to multi-tonne masses, with the DMTPC detector development
programme to measure the dark matter wind, and the Lux-Zeplin
experiment. The group's expertise in high pressure TPCs is now being
utilised to carry out measurements relevant to the study of neutrinos
as part of the Hyper-K experiment.

Using detection techniques similar to those of our dark matter research, we are also involved in the
the puzzle surrounding the matter anti-matter asymmetry in the Universe by
studying the elusive neutrino particle. We measure CP violation in the lepton sector
using the T2K long baseline neutrino experiment in Japan.

Our expertise in accelerator science will allow us to carry out
studies for the machine-detector interface for the High Luminosity LHC
and ILC. We will also expand the interactions between our
phenomenology group and the experimental Neutrino and Dark Matter

Planned Impact

The Centre for Particle Physics (CPP) at RHUL includes the particle
physics experimental research supported in the Consolidated Grant.
The CPP also contains the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science
(JAI) at RHUL and our theoretical physics activity; while these are
not applying for funding in this proposal, it should be recognised
that they have impact related synergies that will benefit from this

Innovation and commercialisation opportunities:
The Centre for Particle Physics is using developments from the core STFC science programme to applications
with commercial or societal impact, these include positron emission tomography detectors, beam line instrumentation,
water contamination measurements and particle beam radiotherapy devices.

Water-lead contamination measurement:
The Centre for Particle Physics has already been successful in obtaining a GCRF grant (for a value of GBP 464k).
The project aims to draw on an area of expertise supported by the STFC core science programme:
ultra-precise radioactivity measurement and calorimetry developed for dark matter and neutrino
physics, and develop application of these techniques to the problem of measuring lead contamination
in water and food.

Positron emission tomography detectors:
The CPP is developing a first prototype of a liquid argon positron emission tomography (PET)
scanner detector using very-ultraviolet silicon photomultiplier (VUV SiPM) sensors. Liquid argon is used in
dark matter and neutrino experiments as an interaction medium due to its high ratio of light yield to deposited energy
allowing for high photon detection efficiency. This, coupled with next generation VUV SiPM
sensors that do not require UV photons to be wavelength shifted to be read out, makes it an ideal detector
medium to develop PET scanners that can detect smaller gamma fluxes than currently possible, reducing
the radioactive dose for a patient, thus reducing their radiation exposure.

Beam line instrumentation:
Particle accelerators are used as microscope facilities to understand the structure of biological, mechanical and
physical systems at the extreme of the small scale. Electron accelerators produce copious amounts of X-ray light.
This principle is used in the most modern linear accelerator based light sources called free electron lasers (FEL).
FELs require tight control of the electron beam thus challenging the accelerator diagnostics and instrumentation.
The JAI have developed a wide range of beam instrumentation devices (Beam position monitors, beam size screens,
laser Compton scattering devices). Beam Position Monitors are particularly well-suited to commercialisation, and in collaboration
with an industrial partner (FMB-Oxford) these BPMs are being supplied to national laboratories (e.g. STFC
Daresbury Laboratory).

Particle beam therapy:
Electrons, X-rays, ions or protons from a particle accelerator can be used to treat cancer. The CPP is focused on developments
for both X-ray and proton therapeutic accelerators.

Proton particle therapy can treat a localised area much more effectively than traditional X-ray treatment and causes
much less damage to surrounding tissue. This makes proton or ion therapy a unique way to treat life-threatening cancer that
may be otherwise untreatable and facilities are being actively developed world-wide. The relatively low energy particle beams
are difficult to contain but also relatively simple to shield for radiation. Simulation of the radiation entering the patient at the
"nozzle'' is of the utmost importance, but yet no start-to-end simulation currently exists. A simulation
tool produced from CPP research and based on Geant 4 provides such a functionality, known as Beam Delivery SIMulation (BDSIM).

For more information, please see the attached Pathway to Impact document.


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