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Particle accelerator simulations for new particle physics experiments

   Department of Physics

   Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Particle colliders are incredibly complex and expensive devices to design, construct, operate and maintain. There are multiple “frontiers” in particle physics – high energy, high intensity and low background. There are colliders at the design phase which are planned to operate at energies beyond that of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), but these colliders are far from certain and even if approved are not to be operating for decades.

There are many other experiments (existing, being constructed or planned) that use high intensity beams to create rare particles, observe rare processes or search for hypothetical particles. Observation of some physics, which does not agree with the Standard Model of Particle Physics, could potentially indicate or be evidence for new physics. All the large international particle physics laboratories have an experimental programme focusing on the high-intensity/low-background. Notable examples are the Physics Beyond Colliders (PBC) programme at CERN, the neutrino programme at Fermilab, nuSTORM, neutrino factories and muon colliders. The PBC experiments Royal Holloway are contributing to are FASER, NA62 and Gamma Factory. Many experiments (NA62++, KLEVER, FASER) experiments are searching for Axion Like Particles (ALPs) which are a potential candidate for Dark Matter. There are smaller programmes at laboratories around the world, for example Royal Holloway is involved in is the LUXE experiment. The LUXE experiment plans to probe Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) in an unexplored regime where non-linear effects are important. This involved colliding electron beams with light produced from a high-power laser.

At Royal Holloway we have developed a beam line simulation tool (BDSIM) which mixes particle transport in matter (Geant4) and accelerators (trajectories in electromagnetic fields). This allows the simulation of accelerators and beam lines described above. For example, nuSTORM has muon production target which collides an approximately 100 GeV proton beam on a solid target, which creates pions which decay to muons and then neutrinos. During this process particles interact with the material of the accelerator and change the number of particles and phase space they occupy. 

The PhD will focus on simulation of any of the experiments Royal Holloway is a member of, so nuSTORM, muon colliders, LUXE, FASER, NA62 or Gamma Factory. A significant component of the PhD will be performing simulations using particle and accelerator physics simulation computer codes. The PhD will include training in both particle physics and accelerator physics. A component of the PhD might include a long term (6-12 month) stay at the experiment location, e.g., CERN or DESY. Royal Holloway is a member of the John Adams Institute (JAI) for Accelerator Science. Which is a collaboration between Royal Holloway, Imperial College and Oxford University. The JAI provides 1st year postgraduate lecture courses. A student pursing a post graduate research degree with us will join a vibrant and supportive research group.

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