Professor David Charlton FRS

Professor David Charlton

School of Physics and Astronomy
Professor of Particle Physics, FRS

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dave Charlton's research is focused on experimental tests of the mechanism(s) of electroweak symmetry breaking mechanism, with the ATLAS Collaboration at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Until early 2017, Dave was Spokesperson of the international ATLAS Collaboration for four years. ATLAS is a global collaboration of some 3000 scientists. The Spokesperson is the scientific head of the collaboration. Prior to becoming Spokesperson, Dave was Deputy Spokesperson for four years, and before that Physics Coordinator of ATLAS in the run-up to the start of collision data-taking.

His research interests include various aspects of electroweak symmetry breaking: from the study of the Higgs boson, discovered in 2012 by ATLAS, with its sister experiment CMS; to further probes in high-energy processes such as gauge-boson scattering. He also maintains an interest in precision electroweak measurements at the LHC, following on from previous work in the 1990s on the OPAL experiment at the LEP collider at CERN.

During ATLAS construction in the 2000s, Dave led the Birmingham work on the ATLAS semi-conductor tracker (SCT), which involved building and testing several hundred hybrid readout circuits - now installed deep inside the ATLAS apparatus at CERN. He also worked on the first-level calorimeter trigger (L1Calo), especially its installation in the electronics cavern at CERN. He is now thinking about new algorithms and trigger strategies for the large upgrade of the LHC coming in the middle of the next decade.


  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics, 2009
  • Professor of Particle Physics, University of Birmingham, 2005
  • PhD in Particle Physics, University of Birmingham, 1989
  • BA (Hons, 1st class) in Physics, Oxford, 1985 


Dave Charlton obtained his PhD on the UA1 experiment with the Birmingham team, searching for production of the top quark in proton-antiproton collisions on the CERN SppS collider.  He then spent twelve years investigating a range of topics related to the physics of Z and W bosons at the CERN LEP collider with the OPAL Collaboration, first working for CERN then returning to Birmingham. During this time he was first Trigger, then Physics Coordinator of the international OPAL Collaboration of around 350 physicists.

After the year 2000 when LEP finally stopped, Dave led the construction in Birmingham of readout hybrid circuits of detector modules for the ATLAS particle tracking detectors, and then worked on the trigger systems, where he led the work of the six-institute (UK, Germany, Sweden) first-level calorimeter trigger collaboration. In 2007, he became Deputy Physics Coordinator of the entire ATLAS Collaboration, then Physics Coordinator in 2008. Between 2009 and 2013, he was Deputy Spokesperson of the Collaboration, including during the times of the Higgs boson discovery in 2012. He was overall Spokesperson of ATLAS from early 2013 to early 2017. 

Dave conceived and led a Y3 design group studies for several years, and also introduced and taught a Y4 module Current Topics in Particle Physics. After returning to teaching following his period as Spokesperson of ATLAS, Dave is giving the Y3 particle physics course from 2018.


  • Y3 Particle Physics
  • Y2 tutoring
  • Y4 project supervision

Postgraduate supervision

Supervision of research PhDs on Particle Physics on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.



  • Electroweak symmetry breaking and other new physics searches in energy-frontier collisions at the LHC (ATLAS Collaboration)
  • Trigger systems for particle physics experiments (ATLAS Collaboration, previously OPAL and UA1 Collaborations)
  • Electroweak physics

Other activities


  • Richard Glazebrook medal and prize of the Institute of Physics, 2017
  • FRS 2014
  • Advisory committees of a range of international conferences 
  • Chair STFC/PPARC Particle Physics Grants Panel, 2004-2007
  • PPARC/STFC Oversight committee for the LHC-b experiment, 2003-2009
  • PPARC Projects Peer Review Panel, 2001-2
  • PPARC Particle Physics Experiments Selection Panel, 1999-2001


Around 1100 publications in total with the ATLAS, OPAL and UA1 Collaborations.