Nuclear Physics Consolidated Grant

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The overarching goal of our research programme is to address aspects of the broad science challenge: "What are the basic constituents of matter and how do they interact?". In particular, by performing experiments primarily with electron and photon beams, we study questions such as "How do quarks and gluons form hadrons?", and by studying these basic, strongly-interacting building blocks we are able to tackle the question "What is the nature of nuclear matter?"

Planned Impact

Cross-Disciplinary Impact:
The detectors, simulation and data analysis tools we develop in our core research are relevant to several applications in other fields. We are heavily involved with knowledge transfer activities and regularly collaborate with researchers from other fields (e.g. computing science or the NHS). Several group members either participate in, serve or have served on a number of cross-disciplinary networks (e.g. chairing the EPC Nuclear Physics Division, or participating in the steering committee of the STFC network in Early Cancer Diagnosis). As a result we have a strong track record in training non-STFC funded PhD students in applied/inter-disciplinary projects. We will continue this during the grant and will apply for future non-STFC funded PhD projects. We have already secured a PhD student funded by the European Spallation Source starting in 2020 and we have applied for an NDA-funded PhD project, both of which will overlap with the grant. For the duration of the grant we will deliver a taught MSc on Nuclear Technology. Key beneficiaries will be MSc and PhD students who will gain technical skills for entering research, data science, or nuclear technology work forces.

Throughout the grant we will seek funding to develop an ultra-fast photon detector offering exceptional performance improvements for applications in different fields relying on precision timing - the radio frequency photomultiplier tube. One possible avenue is within quantum technologies (QT) and we are discussing routes to joint funding with colleagues in this field. Key beneficiaries will include industry partners in different fields from ours, e.g. QT or fluorescence microscopy.

Technology Transfer to Industry:
Several industrial partners will benefit from technologies developed in our research and we will seek several routes to commercialisation. This includes a miniature scintillation detector developed during a recent NDA-funded PhD, and diamond sensor technology which we are developing with Micon Semiconductors Inc. We received an IAA for the diamond sensor studies, the aim of which is to develop an IPS application to run in parallel with the grant. We will seek future commercial customers for our spin-off company Lynkeos Ltd, who currently have a commercial cosmic muon imaging system deployed at Sellafield for imaging shielded nuclear waste containers. We are performing several feasibility studies for purposes such as target monitoring at the ESS, or imaging of civil structures for the German company BAM. If successful, these studies would lead to contracts and extended projects during the grant. Key beneficiaries will include our existing industrial partners Micron Semiconductors, Sellafield, NNL, NDA and any future partnerships.

Outreach and School Engagement:
We have a track record in STFC-funded outreach via a Spark Award. Our primary goal is to educate high school pupils in fundamental nuclear physics. We recently initiated a lending scheme for high schools and STEM ambassadors, providing nuclear physics themed kits. One kit is closely linked to our hadron structure theme and can be used to explain dark photon searches and the physics of the EIC. During the grant we will develop a hadron spectroscopy kit to include in our lending materials. We already train PhD students in outreach and will incorporate undergraduate students. It is also our wider vision to address negative connotations of the word "nuclear" and therefore we would like to take outreach materials to as many science festivals as possible, to interact with families. Key beneficiaries will be:
- Undergraduate/postgraduate students:
- STEM ambassadors/high school physics teachers;
- High school physics pupils and members of the public;
- Current/future outreach colleagues, with whom we will share materials.