Particle Physics Capital Equipment 2018

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


Particle physics seeks to understand the Universe, its birth, evolution and fate in terms of the interplay of elementary particles, the fundamental forces and force-particles that mediate them and the recently discovered Higgs particle that gives elementary particles mass. The last thirty years have seen the development of a theoretical framework, the Standard Model, in which almost all particle-physics data can be explained. But the model is incomplete: it explains what we encounter on Earth but studies of the cosmos suggest the presence of mysterious dark matter that holds galaxies together and more mysterious dark energy that is driving galaxies apart at an ever increasing rate. Our research is aimed at finding the new physics that will reconcile these observations.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN reproduces the conditions within a million millionth of a second of the Big Bang. Oxford plays a major role in ATLAS and LHCb, two experiments that have the potential to completely revolutionise our understanding of the universe. Over the next decade, the LHC will upgrade to higher energy and intensity so detector improvements will need to be made for ATLAS and LHCb, which the equipment requested in this proposal will greatly enhance. These upgraded detectors will take particle physics to an unprecedented level of sensitivity for the observations of new physics that we confidently expect these experiments will reveal.

Meanwhile the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will measure how quickly the expansion of the universe is speeding up due to the mysterious dark energy that represents 75% of all energy in the universe and acts like anti-gravity pushing galaxies apart. This new equipment will help us develop new CCD technology that can operate at cryogenic temperatures to detect faint signals with very low noise.

Overall, by keeping our infrastructure for the development of new technology and experiments at the cutting edge, this equipment will help us retain our world-leading role for scientific excellence and major state-of-the-art detector construction in particle physics for the future.

Planned Impact

By working at the cutting edge of new technologies, significant developments of benefit to a far wider community can be produced. Our research into detectors and sensors has applications in many other fields. Enabled by the Oxford Physics Microstructure Detector Laboratory we are collaborating with a cluster of Oxford departments that will exploit Medipix systems. These include new detectors for electron microscopy (Materials Science), improvements in resolution for TOFMS (Chemistry), and work by the Luminescence Dating Laboratory (Archaeology). The equipment in this proposal will enable us to improve the characterisation and thus performance of these novel systems, and to develop test systems for particle tracking at nanosecond and micron levels. These systems will be used to demonstrate the use of high precision timing detectors based on Timepix4 for Chemistry with time of flight mass spectrometry and Materials Science with cryo-electron microscopy, allowing the dissemination of STFC supported technology into other areas of science, and potential commercial applications.


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