Interview: With Proton Precision
Simon Jolly talks to David Smith about his early physics career and his current involvement in proton therapy in the UK.
Could proton beam therapy help cure the UK's toughest cancers?
“... The UK currently has a low-energy NHS proton beam facility at Clatterbridge cancer centre, in the Wirral, suitable for treating rare cancers of the eye, but complex cases need high energy proton beam therapy. ...”
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, Nova 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.