Physics and Astronomy PhD (Particle Physics specialism)

The Particle Physics Group is involved in diverse present and future experiments at particle accelerators operating at the highest available energies, in order to determine the ultimate structure of matter and to study the fundamental forces of nature. 

We contribute to these experiments both through data analysis and through design and construction of detector and trigger components.

The Particle Physics Group is involved in diverse present and future experiments at particle accelerators operating at the highest available energies, in order to determine the ultimate structure of matter and to study the fundamental forces of nature. We contribute to these experiments both through data analysis and through design and construction of detector and trigger components.

Our largest current activities centre on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and Birmingham is the only UK group participating in three current LHC experiments.

We are heavily involved in data analysis at the ATLAS experiment, and members of the group have played major roles in the discovery of the new particle consistent with the Higgs boson. Besides, our ATLAS group works on heavy quarks physics (beauty and top) and search for supersymmetry and other new physics phenomena.

Our LHCb group studies rare decays of particles containing the beauty quark, and the search for new physics beyond the Standard Model. At LHCb we also study Charge-Parity violation and matter-antimatter asymmetry, which relates to the matter-antimatter imbalance in our Universe.

Our Birmingham nuclear physicist colleagues are the only UK group which is involved in the LHC programme of heavy ion collisions, studied with the ALICE experiment. ALICE is expected to observe and study the quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter that is thought to have existed in the very early universe in which particles such as protons and neutrons 'dissolve' into their constituent quarks and gluons.

Beside LHC experiments, we are also searching for new physics in very rare strange particle decays and for processes that violate Lepton Flavour Universality through our work on the fixed target NA62 (formerly NA48) experiment using the CERN SPS accelerator. Rare processes are sensitive to contributions of virtual new particles (in a mass range of up to 100 TeV) entering the respective Feynman diagrams, and thus provide stringent tests of new theories and an important testing ground for the Standard Model.

Looking at a more distant future, we are heavily involved in LHC upgrades and looking at future possibilities for electron-proton collisions using the LHC proton beam (LHeC project).