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Experimental Particle Physics

Today's high-energy physics is the culmination of twenty-five centuries of searching for an understanding of the ultimate nature of matter. The University of Toronto has one of Canada's most active groups in elementary particle physics and relativity. Over the last 30 years the standard model of particle physics has gradually taken shape. With the conclusion of the recent Z boson physics program at CERN and high energy tests at the Tevatron the standard model has withstood tests of unprecedented precision. Still, we know that this model cannot be complete. Experimentalists and theorists at the University of Toronto are actively trying to find ways to move beyond the current particle physics paradigm.

Ongoing experimental programs include the ATLAS experiment at CERN, near Geneva Switzerland, studying the highest energy man-made proton proton collisions, and the T2K experiment in Japan, which studies long baseline neutrino interactions. The LHC came into operation at CERN in 2008 and has taken over the energy frontier in particle physics since 2010. Our experimental group plays a leading role in the maintenance, operations and potential upgrades for the ATLAS experiment, which is currently acquiring the definitive data-set to pin down the existence of the Higgs boson, postulated to give rise to the mass of all of the fundamental particles. If the Higgs exists we will have the data necessary measure and understand its properties.  While ATLAS hopes to find the origin of mass, the T2K experiment is hoping to investigate the deep mystery why the mass we see in our universe in galaxies, stars and us is only matter, with no antimatter component. The solution may be in an asymmetry between neutrinos and anti-neutrinos, which T2K can study if the smallest of the neutrino mixing angles is non-zero. T2K is currently in the process of measuring this angle. The Toronto group is active in the neutrino beam instrumentation and the mixing angle physics analysis. Both experiments provide a number of exciting opportunities for graduate research into new particle physics phenomena at either the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level, with the possibility of gaining essential instrumentation and hardware experience working on upgrades for ATLAS. More information on the opportunities for graduate students in our groups can be found here .

The future of particle physics is intimately connected to developments in particle accelerators to reach higher and higher energies and intensities. Our group is involved in a project on superconducting radio-frequency accelerating cavities for future accelerators.