Imperial College London

Professor Sir Tejinder Singh Virdee FRS

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Professor of Physics



+44 (0)20 7594 7804t.virdee Website




524 (CERN)Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus





Tejinder (Jim) Virdee, FRS, is Professor of Physics at Imperial College London. In 2012 he celebrated 30 years at Imperial College. Virdee is best known for originating the concept and overseeing the construction of Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) [1], experiment at  CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, with four other colleagues and has been referred to as one of the 'founding fathers' [2] of the project. In July 2012 CMS, along with the ATLAS experiment, announced the discovery of a Higgs boson [3] that merited the 2013 Physics Nobel Prize to the theorists [4] who discovered the mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of fundamental particles. CMS is now a world-wide collaboration which started in 1990 and has over 3000 participants from 38 countries.

Virdee was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012 and was knighted in the the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2014.

Research career

After completing his Ph.D. at Imperial [5], under the supervision of Prof. Peter Dornan FRS, on an experiment conducted at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC), California, U. S. A., he joined CERN in 1979 as a Fellow in the Experimental Physics Division. Virdee’s early scientific career (1979-1984) involved verifying the strange notion that the “quarks” (the constituents of the protons the neutrons and all other hadrons) carry fractional electric charge.  While this is not easy to verify experimentally, as it requires scattering real photons off of the quarks that are tightly bound inside the nucleon, this was successfully demonstrated by the NA14 photoproduction experiment at CERN in the mid-eighties [6]. This experiment required a multi-cell Cerenkov detector that was designed and built under Virdee’s leadership; it provided his first experience with a large construction project. Subsequently he has introduced several innovative approaches to experimentation in high-energy physics, most notably in the area of calorimetry. Following NA14 he joined the UA1 experiment at the then CERN proton-antiproton collider (SPS) where his interest in high performance calorimetry was developed, leading to his invention of a novel technique of collecting light in plastic scintillator-based calorimeters [9] .

Towards the end of UA1, (1990) Virdee, with four colleagues, started planning an experiment that would be able to identify the missing elements of the Standard Model (SM) and also to probe in full the physics of the TeV scale. This was to become the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider [8], one of the most complex instruments science has ever seen. Planning for this experiment required a broad understanding of both the known and predicted physics panorama at the energy frontier as well as an appreciation and understanding of the potential, and applicability, of the various detection techniques within the complex physics programme. Since 1991 Virdee has played a crucial role in all phases of CMS. Over the last two decades this has covered conceptual design, intensive R&D, prototyping, construction, installation, commissioning, data-taking and finally physics exploitation. He has been the driving force behind many of the major technology decisions in CMS, especially the selection of the calorimeter technologies, including the change of front-end electronics chain in the electromagnetic calorimeter [9].

The ferocious conditions in the LHC, created by a billion proton-proton interactions per second, lead to a number of formidable experimental challenges [10]. As a result, many detector techniques had to be pushed to the limit, and some invented, in order to ensure the performance needed to achieve the physics goals of CMS. One of the most critical technological innovations was the technique used by CMS for its electromagnetic calorimeter.

The possibility of detection of the SM Higgs boson played a crucial role in the conceptual design of CMS and served as a benchmark to test the performance of the experiment, none more so than the low mass region. In 1990 Virdee and an Imperial colleague, Christopher Seez, carried out the first detailed simulation studies of the most plausible way to detect the SM Higgs boson in this region in the environment of the LHC: via its decay into two photons [11]. As the boson’s width at such masses is very small, the size of any “peak” seen over background would be dominated by the instrumental energy/mass resolution, placing stringent requirements on the electromagnetic calorimeters. Understanding that dense scintillating crystals offer arguably the best possibility of achieving excellent energy resolution, Virdee made a compelling case for the use of lead tungstate scintillating crystals (PbWO4) for the electromagnetic calorimeter of CMS[12] and then led the team that proved the viability of this technique [13], a technique that has played a crucial role in the discovery of the new heavy boson [3, 14] in July 2012.

CMS is now one of the two largest experiments in particle physics. Virdee was the deputy leader of the collaboration between 1993-2006 and was then elected leader (Spokesperson) in January 2007 for a period of three years. He oversaw the final stages of construction, installation and data taking with the first collisions at the LHC.

Virdee is a major voice in arguing for the long-term future of the LHC accelerator and its two experiments, CMS and ATLAS. An increase in the interaction rate by almost a factor of around ten is being advocated [15].

Honours and Awards

2014 Knight Bachelor, The Queen's Birthday Honours List 2014
Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, London
Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, London

2013 High Energy Particle Physics Prize, European Physical Society.
2012 Special Fundamental Physics Prize
2009 IOP Chadwick Prize and Medal
2007 IOP High Energy Physics Prize [2]

2014 Visiting Professor of Science, New College of the Humanities, London U.K.
Doctor Honoris Causa, Universite Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France.
2013 Doctor Honoris Causa, Queen Mary University of London, U.K.

2010 Named 62nd in “
EUREKA 100: The Science List” - The London Times' 100 most important figures in British science. 
2007 Named in the list of  "100 Personalities that make Swiss Romandie"; l’Hebdo magazine, Switzerland

2013 GG2 Award Asian Leadership Awards, "person of the Year", London, U.K. and 37th in list of Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians. 
2013 India International Award for Science, London, U.K.
2010 Sikh Awards for Education, London, U.K. 

Membership of Peer Review Committees



2013 Chairperson, Committee for Review of NIKHEF LHC Proposal, FOM, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2009-2012  Member, International Advisory Committee, Helmholtz “Physics at Terscale” Alliance, Germany.
2010  Member of Committee of Visitors, Review of High Energy Physics, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington.
2005  Member of Comite d’evaluation of Labratoire de Accelerateur Linear (LAL) Orsay, France.
2000-2004  External Member, Inst. of Particle Physics Phenomenology Steering Committee, U.K.
2000-2004 Member, Scientific Programme Advisory Committee, Fermilab, U. S. A.
1999-2001 Member, Scientific Programme Advisory Committee, Dubna, Russia. 
1999-2000 Chairman of UK – Particle Physics Long Term Science Review which set out the programme opportunities and priorities over the next 20 years.
1999-2001 Member, Science Committee (SC), Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), U.K. SC was responsible for advice to PPARC on particle physics programme.

Principal Invited Lectures

2014 Highlights and Prospects in Hadron Collider Physics, Opening Talk at LHCP Conference, New York, U.S.A.
2014 The Discovery of the Higgs Boson and Measurements, with Fabiola Gianotti, Royal Society, London, U.K.

2013 Higlights from LHC Physics, European School of Physics, Parafurdo, Hungary.
2012  Recent results from the search for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider, IV Jornados CPAN, November, Granada, Spain.
2012  Construction of Large Scale Projects, Technical Capabilities and Infrastructure, European Strategy Group Meeting, September, Krakow, Poland.
2012  Across the TeV Frontier with the LHC, Experimental Perspectives in Hadron Collider Physics,  Cargese, France.

2011  Invited Talk at the Royal Society, Physics requirements for the Design of the ATLAS and CMS Experiments, May.
2011  The Experimental Summary talk at “Physics at LHC” international conference, Perugia, June.
2011 Talk on the LHC Project, European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC), Geneva,
2011 Plenary Talk, The Large Hadron Collider Project and Superconductivity, Superconductivity Centennial Conference, SCC2011, Den Haag, September.
2011  The Experimental Summary talk at “Hadron Collider Physics” International Conference, November, Paris, France

2010  Invited “Vision” Talk at the international Higgs Hunting Workshop, Paris.
2009 The Opening Talk at the 1st Conference on Technology and Instrumentation in Particle Physics, Tsukuba, Japan, The LHC Project: Accelerator and Experiments.

2007 Opening Talk, IEEE-Nuclear Science Symposium, Hawaii, USA, The Large Hadron Collider Project.
2007 Particles, Strings and Cosmology (PASCOS), London, LHC and the Experiments.
2007 The Opening Talk at Conference on Computing in High Energy Physics, Victoria, Canada, LHC Machine and Experiments.

2003  Scottish Universities Summer School for Physics, St. Andrews Scotland: Lectures on General Purpose Detectors at LHC.
2001  Plenary Talk, Intl. Europhys. Conf. on HEP, Budapest, Hungary: Developments in Particle Detection.
2000 Search for the Higgs Boson, Gif-sur-Yvette School, Annecy, France.

1998 The Keynote Speaker IEEE-Nuclear Science Symposium, Toronto, Canada, The Large Hadron Collider Project at CERN.
1998  European School on High Energy Physics at St Andrews, Scotland: Lectures on Experimental Techniques.
1998  Nato Advanced Study Institute, St Croix, Virgin Islands, Lectures on Calorimetry.
1994  Prospects in Hadron Collider Physics, Plenary Talk, Proc. of Intl. Europhysics Conf. on High Energy Phys, Marseille.


Regularly invited to give public talks about the particle physics and the LHC project in diverse venues ranging from schools, science fairs, named lectures, symposia and conferences. Appeared and featured in numerous international press articles, radio and TV programmes.
Regularly interviewed by international television and press journalists as well as by journalists from popular scientific publications. Talks at several Science festivals.

2013 Participated in several BBC World Service radio programmes for "BBC Festival of Science Africa", broadcast from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Also see "CERN and Science in Africa" broadcast on 26th August 2013; "How 'big science' projects such as the search for the 'Higgs boson' at CERN are helping with science teaching in Africa".
2012 Interviewed on BBC Radio programme by Jim Al-Khalili “
The Life Scientific”.
2011 Invited plenary talks on the LHC programme at large international conferences on Optical Communication, and Superconductivity Centennial Conference on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of superconductivity.
2009 - a notable outreach event was a dialogue with Prof. A. C. Grayling broadcast by the BBC World Service that can found at: Discovery - Exchanges at the Frontier.

Public Lectures
2013 The Quest for the Higgs boson at the LHC; A Historical Perspective, Public Lecture, Barcelona, Spain.
2012  Physics of the LHC, Conceiving and Building the Accelerator and its Experiments, Turing Science Festival,  Edinburgh, U.K.
2012  Searching for the Higgs Boson, Cheltenham Science Festival, Cheltenham, U.K.
2012  The Peter Lindsay Lecture, The LHC project at CERN: exploring physics moments after the Big Bang, May, Imperial College, London.
2011  16th Kaczmarczik Lecture, Exploring Nature Moments after the Big Bang: The LHC Accelerator and the CMS Experiment. Drexel University, Philadelphia, May.
2010 Public Lecture, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, U. S. A., The LHC Project, The Journey to Discover the Secrets of Nature, Moments after the Big Bang.

2009 Keynote Speech, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Reno, USA, Discovering the Quantum Universe, The LHC Project at CERN. The audience comprised 1500 selected 16-18 year-olds from about 60 countries.
2008 Invited Public Lecture with Prof. E. Witten, International Conference on High Energy Physics, Philadelphia, USA, Discovering the Quantum Universe, The Large Hadron Collider Project at CERN,
2008 Invited Talk at Euroscience Open Forum, Barcelona, Spain: Discovering the Quantum Universe, The Large Hadron Collider Project at CERN.
2007 20th Schrodinger Lecture, Centennial of Imperial College: Discovering the Quantum Universe: The Large Hadron Collider Project at CERN.
2001 Universal Laws, the Big Bang and Particle Physics, European International Schools, Den Haag, Holland.


  1. CMS website
  2. CERN Courier
  3. Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with teh CMS experiment at the LHC, CMS Collaboration, Phys. Lett. B716 (2012) 30.
  4. 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics
  5. T. S. Virdee, Ph. D. Thesis: Sigma Hyperon Production in a Triggered Bubble Chamber (1979)
  6. A. Astbury et. al., Measurement of deep inelastic Compton scattering of high energy photons. Physics Letters B 152 (5-6): 419. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(85)90521-0
  7. M. Albrow et. al., A uranium scintillator calorimeter with plastic-fibre readout, Nucear Instruments and Methods 256 (1): 23. doi:10.1016/0168-9002(87)91035-7
  8. CMS Letter of Intent, December 2012.
  9. The LHC Detector Challenge, Physics World, September 2004, IOP Publishing ( 
  10. N. Ellis and T. S. Virdee, Experimental Challenges in High-Luminosity Collider Physics, Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science 44 (1): 609–653. doi:10.1146/annurev.ns.44.120194.003141 December 1994.
  11. C. Seez, T. S. Virdee et. al., Photon decay modes of the intermediate mass Higgs boson, 1990.
  12. T. S. Virdee, A Crystal calorimeter for CMS at LHC
  13. Voyage of Discovery at CMS, Understanding the Higgs Bososn, July 2013 Summer Science Exhibition, The Royal Society, U.K.
  14. Studies of Lead Tungstate Crystal Matrices in High Energy Beams for the CMS Electromagnetic Calorimeter at the LHC, G. Alexeev et al., Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A385 (1997) 425.
  15. Editors, F Gianotti, M. Mangano and T. S. Virdee, Physics potential and experimental challenges of the LHC luminosity upgrade, The European Physical Journal C 39 (3): 293 (2004).


1. Measurement of Deep Inelastic Compton Scattering of High Energy Photons, P. Astbury et al (NA14 Collaboration), Phys. Lett.  152B (1985) 419-427.

2. A Uranium-Scintillator Calorimeter with Plastic Fibre Readout, M. G. Albrow et al., Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A256 (1987) 23-37.

3. Performance of a Uranium/Tetramethylpentane Electromagnetic Calorimeter, M. G. Albrow et al, Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A265 (1988) 303-318.

4. Studies of intermediate vector boson production and decay in the UA1 at the CERN proton-antiproton collider, C. Albajar et al, (UA1 Collaboration), Z. Phys. C44 (1989) 15-61.

5. The Compact Muon Solenoid, Letter of Intent, CERN/LHCC 92-3, 1992.

6. Experimental challenges in high luminosity collider physics, N. Ellis and T. S. Virdee, Ann. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 44 (1994) 609-653.

7. Studies of lead tungstate crystal matrices in high energy beams for the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter at the LHC, G. Alexeev et al., Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A385 (1997) 425. 

8. Physics Potential and Experimental Challenges of the LHC Luminosity Upgrade, Eds. M. Mangano, F. Gianotti and T. Virdee et al., Europhysics Journal C39 (2004) 293

9. Detectors at LHC, Phys. Rep. 403-404(2004) 401. Invited article on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of CERN.

10. The CMS experiment at the CERN LHC,  S. Chatrchyan et al., J. Inst. 3 (2008) S08004.

11. Commissioning of the CMS experiment and the cosmic run at four Tesla,CMS Collaboration 2010, J. Inst. 5 T03001.

12.  Observation of Long-Range, Near-Side Angular Correlations in Proton-Proton Collisions at the LHC, CMS Collaboration 2010, J. High Energy Phys. 09 (2010) 091.

13.  Measurements of Inclusive W and Z Cross Sections in pp Collisions at √s = 7 TeV, CMS Collaboration 2011,  J. High Energy Phys. 01 (2011) 080.

14.  Search for Resonances in the Di-lepton Mass Distribution in pp collisions at √s = 7 TeV, CMS Collaboration 2011, J. High Energy Phys. 05 (2011) 093.

15.  Search for Supersymmetry in pp Collisions at 7 TeV in Events with Jets and Missing Transverse Energy, CMS Collaboration 2011, Phys. Lett. B 698 (2011) 196–218.

16. Observation and studies of jet quenching in Pb-Pb Collisions at √sNN = 2.76 TeV, CMS Collaboration 2010, Phys. Rev. C 84 (2011) 024906.

17. Indications of Suppression of Excited Υ States in Pb-Pb Collisions at √sNN = 2.76 TeV, CMS Collaboration 2010, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107 (2011) 052302.

18. Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC, CMS Collaboration 2010, Phys. Lett. B 716 (2012) 30.

19. Journey in the search for the Higgs boson: the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, M. Della Negra, P. Jenni and T. S. Virdee, Science 33B (2012) 1560.

20. Study of the mass and spin of the Higgs boson candidate via its decays to Z boson pairs, CMS Collaboration 2010, Phys. Rev. Lett. 1110 (2013) 081803 


Khachatryan V, Sirunyan AM, Tumasyan A, et al., 2016, Search for Narrow Resonances Decaying to Dijets in Proton-Proton Collisions at root s=13 TeV, Physical Review Letters, Vol:116, ISSN:0031-9007

Khachatryan V, Sirunyan AM, Tumasyan A, et al., 2016, Search for neutral MSSM Higgs bosons decaying to mu(+) mu(-) in pp collisions at root s=7 and 8 TeV, Physics Letters B, Vol:752, ISSN:0370-2693, Pages:221-246

Gianotti F, Virdee TS, 2015, The discovery and measurements of a Higgs boson, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A-mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol:373, ISSN:1364-503X

Khachatryan V, Sirunyan AM, Tumasyan A, et al., 2015, Search for a standard model Higgs boson produced in association with a top-quark pair and decaying to bottom quarks using a matrix element method, European Physical Journal C, Vol:75, ISSN:1434-6044

Khachatryan V, Sirunyan AM, Tumasyan A, et al., 2015, Study of final-state radiation in decays of Z bosons produced in pp collisions at 7 TeV, Physical Review D, Vol:91, ISSN:1550-7998

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