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University of Manchester part of £60 million investment to keep UK at the forefront of global particle physics research

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is investing £60 million as part of its continued support to the particle physics research community in the UK.

This funding helps to keep the UK at the forefront of answering some of the biggest and most complex questions in science and supports the next generation of UK particle physicists.

As part of the latest particle physics experiment grants from STFC 18 UK universities will be able to carry out world-leading particle physics research over the next three years.

The particle physics group at The University of Manchester will benefit from £4.6 million of new funding. The Manchester team exploits the data collected by two of the main experiments at the LHC, which collide protons at the highest energies currently accessible by accelerators. They also study the properties of the neutrino and search for dark matter using state-of-the-art liquid-argon detectors.

Andrew Pilkington, Professor of Particle Physics at The University of Manchester said: “An important part of our research is to exploit the data collected by large international experiments, as this allows us to learn more about the fundamental particles that exist in nature.

“At the ATLAS experiment at the LHC, we search for new types of particles (or particle interactions) that are not predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics, including dark matter and anomalous Higgs boson interactions. At the LHCb experiment, we study the properties of the charm and bottom quarks, to better understand the matter-antimatter asymmetry observed in the Universe. At the SBND and Microboone experiments, we study the properties of the neutrino and search for new species of neutrino. At the Muon g-2 experiment, we study the possible anomalous interactions of the muon with external magnetic fields.

“We also play a major role in the design and construction of future particle physics experiments, from the upgrades of LHC experiments to the next generation of neutrino and dark matter experiments.”

Particle physics studies the world at the smallest possible distance scales and the highest achievable energies, seeking answers to fundamental questions about the structure of matter and the composition of the Universe.

Ten years after the UK researchers’ contribution to the Nobel Prize winning detection of the Higgs boson, some of the questions that the community is working to answer are:

·       What is the Universe made of and why?

·       What is the underlying nature of neutrinos?

·       Why is there an imbalance between matter and antimatter in the Universe?

·       How can we detect dark matter?

·       Are there any new particles or particle interactions we can find?

Professor Grahame Blair, STFC Executive Director for Programmes, said: “STFC continues to support the experimental particle physics community in the UK in answering fundamental questions about our Universe.

“The grants are vital in supporting technicians, engineers and academics in their skills and expertise in the field, all while encouraging career development in fundamental research with both universities and international collaborators.

“This investment underpins the UK physics community and enables continued UK leadership in the field of experimental particle physics.”

Research teams funded by the UK are working on solving ground-breaking challenges in particle physics, including the race to detect dark matter, the investigation of neutrino oscillations and the search for proton decay – all key questions in fundamental physics which we still do not have answers to.

Source : https://www.manchester.ac.uk/ University of Manchester

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