Faculty, students, engineers to design and build systems for ATLAS experiment

In 2012, scientists and the public around the world rejoiced at the news that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider had discovered the long-sought Higgs boson—a particle regarded as a linchpin in the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory that describes the fundamental forces and classifies all known elementary particles.

Despite the breakthrough, subsequent collisions in the machine have yet to produce evidence of what physicists call “new physics”: science that could address the areas where the Standard Model seems to break down—like dark matter, dark energy and why there is more matter than antimatter. So now, the particle accelerator and its detectors are getting an upgrade.

On Feb. 5, the National Science Foundation and the National Science Board gave the green light for $75 million in funding for upgrades to the ATLAS experiment, one of the collider’s two 7-story high and half a football-field long detectors—opening the doors for the discovery of new particles and rare processes. Approximately $5.5 million will go to the University of Chicago, a founding member of the ATLAS experiment, to design and build several components for the upgraded detector.

“These upgrades will help the physics community answer glaring questions surrounding the structure of the fundamental particle universe,” said Asst. Prof. David Miller, a particle physicist who has worked extensively on the ATLAS detector and is co-leading the University’s participation in the upgrade. “Why do the fundamental particles that we know about exist in the first place? What is the underlying pattern and structure behind them?”

Read more at UChicago News.

Photo: The ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. UChicago scientists will build components for an upgrade to the detector. Courtesy CERN.