UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy »

High Energy Physics

18 Sep 2014

Recent News


Reuters: Cancer-zapping proton therapy only suitable for rare patients.
“ ... Simon Jolly, a lecturer in accelerator physics at University College London (UCL), said these key features of the proton beam make it highly suited to some hard-to-reach tumors, or tumors growing very close to other key organs that could be badly affected by radiation, such as the brain stem or spinal cord. ‘What you're trying to do is deliver dose to the cells that you want to kill... and do it in a targeted way,&rsquo Jolly told reporters at a briefing for reporters given by experts on proton therapy. ‘The key advantage with the proton is that it goes in and then stops. And it dumps must of its energy, doing most of its damage, at the end of its path. So not only are you doing less damage on the way in, but it also means that if there are sensitive areas on the far side of the tumor, you will not damage them.’ ... ”

The UCL high energy physics group has 40 academics, research and technical staff and 30 PhD students. We are one of the largest groups in the country with research areas spanning: theory/phenomenology, detector, software and accelerator R&D and analysis of data from the LHC, dark matter and neutrino experiments.

Our research is focussed in 6 physics areas:
  • to understand the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking through Higgs boson and other measurements with ATLAS and to lead ATLAS upgrades to maximise this understanding;
  • understand the nature of the neutrino and its relation to the matter anti-matter asymmetry and physics beyond the Standard Model (SM) through measurements at MINOS+, NEMO-III and SuperNEMO and the development of new phenomenological models;
  • probe QCD in the new environment of high multiplicity, large boosts and multiple interactions that the LHC provides and utilise the advances made to benefit our electroweak symmetry breaking programme and the development of improved models of proton structure and QCD interactions;
  • understand the nature of dark matter through its direct detection using the LUX and LZ detectors;
  • probe for physics at energy scales beyond the LHC through: a study of ultra-high-energy (UHE) neutrino interactions with ANITA/ARA, a precision measurement of the muon's magnetic moment with the FNAL g-2 experiment and a search for charged lepton flavour violation with the COMET experiment and the incorporation of this data in developing or constraining models of physics beyond the SM;
  • lead developments of next generation detectors and accelerators, particularly low-background Xe detectors, liquid-Ar detectors and proton-driven plasma wakefield acceleration;

Much of our technical work developing next generation particle accelerators, detectors and readout/DAQ systems has applications outside of particle physics: we are developing DAQ for the European X-ray Free Electron Laser at DESY, accelerator optimisation and detector systems for the UCLH Hadron therapy cancer center, plastic scintillator detectors to image large cargo volumes (CREAM TEA) for security applications and high-purity low background detectors for environment applications.

We also have several outreach initiatives and host an artist-in-residence and several members of the group appear frequently on TV and radio and publish articles in the national press.