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DE-SC0023365: Research in High Energy Physics at the University of Illinois on the ATLAS Experiment

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
  • DUNS: 041544081
  • Most Recent Award Date: 04/23/2024
  • Number of Support Periods: 3
  • PM: Patwa, Abid
  • Current Budget Period: 06/01/2024 - 05/31/2025
  • Current Project Period: 06/01/2022 - 05/31/2025
  • PI: Neubauer, Mark
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

Research in High Energy Physics at the University of Illinois 
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois 
1901 S. First Street, Suite A, Champaign, IL 61820-7406 

M. Neubauer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Principal Investigator)
B. Hooberman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Co-Investigator)
J. Shelton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Co-Investigator)


This award by the Office of High Energy Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy supports research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with the aim of understanding our universe at its most fundamental level. This research effort studies physics at both the small scale of elementary particles and the large-scale structure of the universe. We collaborate with scientists and engineers to develop new tools and techniques to advance our research toward this goal and provide training of students and postdocs for their career advancement. 

Our research has two main thrusts. The first is research on the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) led by Hooberman and Neubauer. The second is research at the juncture of particle physics and cosmology led by Shelton. 

The 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson at the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) explained the origin of mass and completed the standard model of particle physics. The current primary goal of the LHC physics program is the search for beyond-the-standard model (BSM) physics. Hooberman and Neubauer’s groups plan to contribute to the search for BSM physics in ATLAS data to understand the basic building blocks of matter and the fundamental forces that mediate their interactions. Specifically, we will search for new phenomena in events containing pairs of vector bosons or long-lived particles that travel large distances before decaying to leptons. These efforts will be bolstered by novel techniques including machine learning algorithms, which will enhance the discovery reach beyond conventional methods. The UIUC ATLAS group will also contribute to upgrades of the ATLAS trigger system that will enable this program throughout the High-Luminosity LHC era, which will begin in the mid 2020’s. A discovery in this research program would revolutionize our understanding of the building blocks of matter and the fundamental forces. 

The research by Shelton’s group includes several projects that connect BSM particle physics to potential signatures at energy, intensity, and cosmic frontiers. The research studies the stochastic gravitational wave signals generated by an epoch of early structure formation prior to Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) and determines how current and future gravitational wave detectors can be used to shed light on the unknown early expansion history of the universe. Shelton’s group will also study cosmic consequences of realistic models of kination, both before and after BBN. Finally, the research will further develop predictions for light scalar states that couple to the Higgs boson and drive the electroweak phase transition strongly first-order. This research will extend the prospects for understanding the very early evolution of our universe and the particle physics within it. 

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