Oxford Particle Physics Group Responsive RA Bid

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 elementary particles (quarks, leptons), the fundamental forces (strong, electromagnetic, weak forces, gravity) and the particles that mediate them (photons, W/Z, gluons, gravitons) and the Higgs particle that gives elementary particles mass. The Standard Model, a theoretical framework developed in the last fifty years, elucidates almost all particle-physics data. 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. Oxford's research will significantly advance our understanding of the "new-physics" theory that will emerge to replace the Standard Model by providing the data to guide the theoretical work to develop it. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) reproduces the conditions within a million millionth of a second of the Big Bang. Oxford plays a major role in ATLAS and LHCb. These experiments have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe completely. In ATLAS, Oxford physicists participated in the exciting discovery of the "Higgs particle", which gives mass to elementary particles. The Higgs particle is like a curtain; now that we have found it, we can draw back the curtain to see a new world. Accordingly, we are studying it in great detail. We are also searching for new particles that would provide a solution to "dark-matter" which makes up about 80% of matter in the Universe. Oxford physicists on LHCb strive to better understand the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the Universe by studying subtle differences in the behaviour of quarks & antiquarks - "CP-violation". This asymmetry permits us to exist. LHC Run 3 is just started. Increased data and improved detectors and triggers will enhance the discovery potential of both ATLAS and LHCb.

We participate in high-precision experiments complementary to the large experiments at the LHC. Mu3e searches for new physics mediated by very heavy particles that would not be visible at the LHC but are expected in many theoretical models, including SUSY. Mu3 is set to have its maiden run in 2024. The exploitation possibilities open by this run will improve sensitivity to many new physics scenarios with respect to previous experiments.

LZ addresses one of the most critical questions in particle physics & cosmology by searching for dark matter. Exploiting the largest dark matter detector of its kind, the LZ collaboration recently presented its first science results on July 7, 2022. In Oxford, the LZ group is developing novel selection criteria that will enable exploring regions of dark matter phase space currently unexplored.

In summary, ATLAS, LHCb, Mu3e, and LZ are taking or expecting to take data imminently. Therefore, these are unique and exciting times for Particle Physics at Oxford.


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