Capital Equipment in support of Sheffield Particle Physics - ATLAS, ATLAS upgrade, T2K, FNE, MICE, EDELWEISS/EURECA, DMGS, SNO+, R&D, K

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


We are living in an exceptional age for discoveries in particle physics with potential for producing step changes in understanding of the composition and structure of the Universe. The research we plan, supported by the equipment requested here, is at the core of these discoveries. A key objective of the UK and international particle physics communities is to upgrade the Large Hadron Collider, ATLAS and CMS experiments, to enable collection of ten times more data than was originally foreseen. This will allow ATLAS to measure properties of the new boson announced in July 2012 to unprecedented precision, to establish firmly whether it is indeed the Higgs boson, and if so whether it has the properties predicted by the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The extra data will also greatly increase the sensitivity of ATLAS to new physics beyond the Standard Model such as Supersymmetry. In order to realize this goal the ATLAS central tracking detector will need to be replaced to enable operation in the harsher radiation conditions expected at the upgraded LHC. This proposal contributes to that goal by seeking equipment to support development of the cooling system required by the new tracking detector and for testing the electronic modules of the tracker.
A second recent major advance, by the T2K experiment in 2011, reports evidence for a non-zero third neutrino mixing angle. This unlocks progress to experiments in so-called charge-parity (CP) violation to answer the mystery of why the Universe contains virtually no anti-matter. Our neutrino group will focus on contributing analysis to confirm the results but also, using membership of LBNE, progress key new detector technology towards a next generation long baseline neutrino experiment to see CP violation. Our focus will be with liquid argon technology and our pioneering work on electroluminescence light readout, key also to our on-going work towards an experiment to see if the proton decays, core to understanding Grand Unified Theories of physics. The equipment request for a new liquid argon detector and gas analysis facility is key here, in particular to open participation in a 35 ton prototype experiment at Fermilab. Closely related is our continued participation also in SNO+, aimed at understanding solar neutrinos, and the MICE experiment. The study of muon cooling with MICE is vital for the design and construction of future accelerator projects such as a Neutrino Factory and Muon Collider. These efforts will be facilitated by the requested fast digital oscilloscope.
Technological developments have recently led to major improvements in sensitivity of detectors to WIMP dark matter, thought to comprise 90% of the galaxy. Exploiting our pioneering work in background mitigation, directional sensitivity and analysis, our future work will concentrate on the LZ and DRIFT-CYGNUS experiments. The latter aims to determine a definitive galactic signature for recently claimed low mass WIMP events and will see a new experiment installed at the UK's Boulby underground site, DRIFT-IIe. Low background R&D and radon issues have become core to such rare event physics, including searches for rare double beta decay. The proposed Rn adsorption test facility fits well here and is also of interest to the environmental science community and development of the UK's underground Boulby site.
All the equipment also supports our generic R&D, closely related to a vigorous knowledge exchange programme. Highlight activity will include development of particle tracking in liquid argon relevant to medical applications, gas-based directional neutron detectors with relevance for homeland security and use of muon detectors to monitor CO2 underground storage, all part of our work on social agendas in climate change and crime prevention. Finally, the requested computational suite crosses all research groups to allow multiple services to run on the same host machine and future-proof the group's computing.

Planned Impact

Sheffield particle physics has built a strong record in impact through KE activity that has tripled since 2009 to include funded projects with government, industry, medical priority areas and in energy and environment. Feedback by the panel from the last CG round gave strong praise for this work. Currently 15 UK companies are involved, with other activity across several non-physics departments, other Universities and organisations. A major new success, strongly linked to the requested equipment here, is a funded industrial programme to spin out our expertise from ATLAS engineering into the aerospace industry with VBC Group Ltd. This will allow creation of a prototype based on an existing high performance welding system. The main aim is to transfer an advanced technique developed for automatic joining of ultra thin wall aerospace based metal alloy tube to VBC, a UK based SME. A new company VBC Instrument Engineering has been created as a specific route to market for welding technologies developed by the group. In conjunction with High Tech Tubes Ltd (HTL) we have developed novel Ti heat exchanger tubing for which HTL have received multiple international orders to the value of £480k since Dec 2011.
Supported by the requested daq electronics here is another new impact programme, funded by DECC at £1.2M for staff and consumables, to apply particle physics muon detector technology to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). We are leading with Sheffield departments in geo-mechanics, engineering and law, in cooperation with Durham University and Premier Oil a programme to develop deep bore hole muon tomography to monitor underground stored CO2. This has potential huge impact in the multi billion CCS industry.
Our dark matter technology is also being successfully spun out, directly supported by the requests here. Major funded programmes with HMO, AWE, EPSRC and others include work to produce large area (m2) next generation scintillator neutron portal monitors for airboe cargo monitoring and projects to develop neutron activation for detection of explosives, to build hand-held neutron detectors for in-field monitoring of nuclear material and dirty bombs, to use cosmic rays in nuclear security, and with Leverhulme Trust funding to build a gas-based directional fast neutron detector for security. These activities have potentially huge impact in the multi-billion security industry.
For the medical industry we have funded programmes spun out from T2K work with LabLogistic Ltd. and Southern Scientific Ltd. to develop new liquid scintillator and photo-sensor technology for in-blood tissue diagnostics. Also a new programme with the Hallamshire Hospital to spin out our noise extraction data analysis techniques, developed in gravitational wave research (LIGO), for application to brain wave analysis. These can benefit from the electronics requests here.
Our long-standing cooperation with Cleveland Potash Ltd. (CPL) has aided development of the deep underground Palmer laboratory into a new interdisciplinary low background STFC-futures laboratory. Here there is direct relevance to the requested RGA and radon facility. We have projects developing radio-assay and climate change with links to the SKY-II project to study cosmic ray effects on climate change. There is impact across non-physics projects including biology and underground science and to provide the UK with a world-class facility.
Linked to LBNE work is a joint PhD in geo-engineering with AAE Ltd. They received £350K EU funding as a result of our collaboration. Regarding our liquid argon work with LBNE there are many worldwide, multi-disciplinary opportunities. Specifically we work with Electron Tubes Ltd. and Sensl Ltd. on SiPMTs and PMT development. Results of our tests of Sensl SiMPTs already feature in their marketing materials. A new application to develop replacement PET/SPECT medical instruments is just starting with a joint bid to MRC with the Hallamshire Hospital.


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