Dr. Jongseok Lim has been awarded a prestigious Rutherford Fellowship to work on one of the most challenging problems in modern physics.
The Standard Model of particle physics is one of the greatest achievements of modern science. It has been fabulously successful in classifying the fundamental particles and explaining how they behave. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that the Standard Model is incomplete because it fails to explain several important observations.
To build a more complete picture of the universe, physicists are striving to reveal what lies beyond the Standard Model. This is an important objective of much of the research being done at gigantic particle accelerators. There is an alternative, and ingenious, way to explore the same problem – measure the shape of an electron. The new forces needed to explain the matter/antimatter imbalance also make electrons slightly non-spherical. This distortion – known as the electric dipole moment -changes the energy of an electron in an electric field, and that tiny change is amplified when the electron is bound to a molecule. Lim proposes to build an apparatus that uses an array of molecules cooled to microkelvin temperatures to make an extremely precise measurement of the electron’s shape. With very careful measurements, such table-top experiments will enable him to probe energies equal to, or even above, those reached by the particle accelerators.
*The Ernest Rutherford Fellowships, provided by the STFC, enable early career researchers with clear leadership potential to establish a strong, independent research programme.
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