High Energy Physics

The standard model of particle physics.

High Energy Physics (HEP) is the study of the most fundamental building blocks of nature. Both accelerators producing energies not seen since the big bang, and natural sources of high energy particles are used to elucidate the nature of matter. Members of the department are working on the CDF experiment at the Fermi national laboratory in Chicago, the Atlas experiment at the LHC in Geneva, Switzerland and the Super-Kamiokande, T2K and Belle II experiments in Japan. Topics include the search for the Higgs boson and the study of the properties of the neutrino and heavy quarks with a focus on understanding the origin of mass and the observed matter asymmetry of the universe.

We approach these problems both by using accelerators, and with natural sources of particles. The CDF and ATLAS experiments use colliding beams of protons (and anti-protons at Fermilab) to achieve the highest possible energies in an attempt to make high mass particles which have never been seen. In T2K, an accelerator is used to smash protons into a target at the highest possible intensity so as to make the most neutrinos possible. This is complementary to the neutrinos seen in Super-K which are produced in the upper atmosphere of the earth when primary cosmic rays smash into air molecules. At Belle II high intensity electron and positrons are used to study rare decays of heavy quarks, which might be sensitive to physics beyond the standard model.

High energy physics is an international endeavor, and we work at laboratories all over the world. The HEP group is continuing to work on the CDF experiment near Chicago, on the Belle II experiment at KEK near Tokyo, and on the Super-K experiment near the west coast of Japan. In just a few years two new exciting experiments will be starting in Europe and Japan.

CERN map

The ATLAS experiment is one of two large experiments located on the ring of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located on the border of Switzerland and France near the city of Geneva. When it starts running it will be producing the most energetic collisions of protons in the world. The potential for new and surprising discoveries is extremely high.

T2K map

The T2K experiment will shoot neutrinos 295 km across and underneath Japan from the east coast to the west coast. The neutrinos will be detected first with a set of detectors near their point of production and then, once again, 295 km away at Super-Kamiokande. The goal is to see the a type of neutrino oscillation which has never been observed. If seen, a whole new set of experiments related to the physics of the highest energy scales and earliest times of the universe will begin.

It is an exciting time to be a particle physicist, and to take part in these cutting edge experiments.

Faculty, Staff & Researchers

The Duke HEP group is made up of faculty, staff and students working both here in Durham and also at the labs in Chicago, Switzerland and Japan. You can find contract information below.