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DE-SC0012447: Research in Elementary Particle Physics

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • DUNS: 045632635
  • Most Recent Award Date: 09/15/2023
  • Number of Support Periods: 10
  • PM: Turner, Kathleen
  • Current Budget Period: 07/01/2023 - 03/31/2024
  • Current Project Period: 07/01/2023 - 03/31/2026
  • PI: Rumerio, Paolo
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

The goal of elementary particle physics research is to learn about the fundamental nature of our universe: what are the elementary particles that make up everything else, and what are the interactions between them.

Dark matter direct detection experiments seek to find a yet undiscovered form of matter. It is thought to comprise about 85% of the total matter inventory of the universe. The University of Alabama (UA) collaborates on the LZ experiment, which uses 7 tons of liquid xenon in a time projection chamber (TPC). The TPC utilizes 17-tonnes of Gd-doped liquid scintillator as an active shield. It operates deep underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD. LZ is a collaborative effort of more than 250 scientists from the US, Europe, and Asia. The UA group contributes to detector calibration, source characterization and leak testing, data analysis and outer detector operation. After the commissioning of the LZ detector in the fall of 2021, the UA group has been maintaining the AmLi neutron sources, which were constructed at UA. We are now developing a new, fully characterized AmBe neutron calibration source. In addition, the UA group is participating in the detector calibration and outer detector efforts and contributes to the development of the next-generation dark matter search within the framework of the XLZD consortium.

Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN are probing the very highest energy collisions ever produced in the laboratory. The UA group collaborates on the CMS experiment at the LHC. UA researchers are examining the CMS data to search for evidence of rare Higgs boson decays, as well as of new physics beyond our current Standard Model, such as leptoquarks and vector-like quarks. We also contribute to the ongoing data taking of the CMS experiment and the upgrade of the CMS detector for the High-Luminosity LHC, and play a leading role in the application of advanced Machine Learning algorithms to high-energy physics with CMS.

Theoretical research into elementary particle physics is being pursued by a group of 2 faculty members and 6 graduate students. The research projects being carried out by the faculty include both individual projects and joint projects within the group. The individual projects are in the areas of phenomenology, cosmology, holography and effective field theories for physical systems. The joint projects within the group are centered on the use of holographic methods to describe the thermalization of the particles in the quark-gluon plasma which exists immediately after the end of the inflationary phase of the universe.

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