With the CERN Large Hadron Collider performing beyond expectations and rapidly collecting data at unprecedented energies and luminosities, High Energy Physics is currently undergoing something of a revolution. There is a high probability that the Higgs boson and/or new physics beyond the Standard Model will be discovered in the next few years and understood in detail as the LHC continues to be the main focus of the field for perhaps 20 years.
This situation and the strength of the particle physics group at Birmingham presents many excellent opportunities on the timescale of the Birmingham Fellowship Scheme and beyond.
Birmingham has a large particle physics group, which has built up a strong reputation over the years, in particular through work on experiments at the CERN, DESY and SLAC laboratories. We currently have internationally leading roles in the areas of proton-proton collisions at the energy frontier (ATLAS), flavour physics (NA62, LHCb), deep-inelastic lepton-nucleon scattering (H1, LHeC) and the development of high performance calorimetry for future applications such as a Linear Collider.
As well as being active in physics analysis in all of these experiments, we have contributed significantly to the construction of many of them, in particular through our expertise in building and implementing triggering electronics. Our facilities include a silicon and electronics laboratory, which has assembled components for the ATLAS and ALICE experiments. We have a strong involvement in the development of the GRID distributed computing network, which we are now exploiting in our LHC work.
We are a leading group in outreach, with strong connections to many schools, which we regularly visit to give presentations, often based around our portable spark chamber and our research at the LHC. Among other events, we host an annual IOP-supported Masterclass for A level students. We have also developed a simplified version of the ATLAS event display program, which teaches members of the public to identify different classes of LHC events. We run an undergraduate course in Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology, which attracts around 10 students per year.
The group's main source of funding is through a rolling grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. We are also in receipt of funding from the European Research Council and from the Royal Society.
Specific areas where we are currently looking to strengthen our involvement are described in more detail below. Further information can be found by following the links from the group homepage: http://www.ep.ph.bham.ac.uk/
The ATLAS Experiment
Our ATLAS group currently consists of 6 academics members of staff, 9 postdoctoral researchers and engineers and 6 Ph.D. students. Prof Dave Charlton is the deputy spokesperson for the experiment and currently the most senior UK member of the collaboration. We have been heavily involved in the construction and operation of the first level calorimeter trigger (L1Calo) and are working towards its upgrade for the next phase of LHC runnning. We also contribute to the Semiconductor Tracker (SCT), which we partially constructed, and are involved in developing the ATLANTIS event display program. Our physics analyses are currently focused on Higgs searches, top and heavy flavour physics, isolated photon production and diffractive processes. There are opportunities for new fellows to become involved in any of these toics, or to lead a new area of physics analysis as we move towards a more search-focused phase of the experiment.
Following earlier flavour physics work at OPAL and BaBar, the group is now well established in the fixed target NA62 experiment at CERN. NA62 will search for new physics in rare kaon decays with 2-3 years of data taking starting in 2013-14. The Birmingham group is responsible for the design and construction of the Cherenkov detector identifying kaons in the beam line (CEDAR). We are also very active in NA62 physics analysis, leading the study of Lepton Flavour Universality in kaon decays. We have recently joined the LHCb experiment, with a group currently comprising 2 academics and 2 Ph.D. students. LHCb will perform unique searches for new physics through exceptionally precise measurements. The Birmingham group is engaged in the critical areas of core software and distributed computing and has strong interests in hardware-related activity for the proposed detector upgrade. The group analysis strategy is centred on rare decays, with the possibility to expand into other areas in the future. We welcome applications for fellowships to build our contribution to LHCb in these areas and beyond.