Postgraduate Research Opportunities in Particle Physics at the Imperial College HEP Group
The High Energy Physics (Experimental Particle Physics) group at Imperial College is one of the largest in the UK and has a wide and varied research programme. Information about available courses can be found in the research section of the Postgraduate Prospectus.
Initial application deadline for STFC-funded positions: 16th January 2023
The HEP Group Open Day took place on Wednesday 14 December 2022. The slides presented are available to download.
Current research projects in Experimental Particle Physics include:
- The CMS (compact muon solenoid) experiment at the LHC, the world's highest energy collider, discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012. This discovery resulted in a Nobel Prize in 2013 and today, CMS is focused on precision measurements of the Higgs boson and searches for new physics. CMS has managed to place stringent limits on theories that go beyond the Standard Model. After the recent LHC upgrade, CMS will very soon be taking data at the highest energies and rates ever achieved and will continue its search for physics beyond the Standard Model. Once the high-luminosity LHC starts, CMS will be capable of taking data at a rate never before achievable. Breakthroughs in fast digital electronics and the use of machine learning will be vital for the CMS physics programme in the future.
- LHCb, an experiment at the LHC, which is searching for deviations from the Standard Model in the decays of B mesons. The experiment uses the LHC as a prolific source of B-hadrons, providing the potential for a discovery of physics not explained by the Standard Model in Rare Decays and in CP violation measurements. The existing measurements provide powerful probes of new physics models and have revealed intriguing deviations from the Standard Model expectations. Further measurements are now being started with the data collected after the LHC upgrade and these measurements will allow the deviations seen to be explored further.
- T2K/Super-K/Hyper-K, the experiment through which we made the seminal discovery of electron-neutrino appearance from a muon-neutrino beam, and which continues to be the neutrino beam experiment that is making the highest-precision measurements. We are working on the upgrade to the neutrino-beam line at J-PARC that is required to secure the best sensitivity for the T2K programme and on the Hyper-Kamiokande experiment, which is the next-generation experiment that will follow T2K.
- Development of advanced concepts in particle acceleration. Our programme encompasses the development of next-generation systems for particle-beam therapy (NIMMS2, HITRI+, and LhARA) and the development of novel techniques for high-power proton beams, and the development of nuSTORM, a novel source of intense neutrino beams with precisely controlled flux and energy produced by the decay of muons confined within a storage ring. We are active in the development of a future muon collider and the study of ionization cooling, including the development of an experiment to demonstrate cooling in all 6 phase-space dimensions. We are also developing new concepts for Fixed Field Accelerators with application to ISIS (PDF) at RAL and future clinical application. We are members of the John Adams Institute and PhD programmes are executed in collaboration with our partners at CERN, RAL, and at other laboratories overseas.
- CCAP, the Centre for the Clinical Application of Particles (CCAP), is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the HEP and Plasma Physics Groups in Physics and the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial. The mission of the CCAP is to harness novel particle-acceleration, detection, imaging, and data-processing techniques to enhance biomedical science and for clinical application. At the heart of the Centre's programme is the development of the Laser-hybrid Accelerator for Radiobiological applications (LhARA). LhARA will be a unique facility dedicated to study of biology using proton and light-ion beams. Our programme includes collaboration with CERN and other laboratories in Europe.
- SHiP is a proposal for a new facility at CERN that is led by Imperial group members. The experiment will search for the new particles predicted by so-called "Hidden Sector" models which are capable of accommodating dark matter, explaining the pattern of neutrino oscillations and masses, and the origin of the baryon asymmetry in the Universe.
- SoLid is a neutrino experiment searching for a new kind of matter with a novel type of 3D scintillator detector operating very close to a research nuclear reactor.
- Preparations for the LISA experiment, a next generation gravitational wave experiment in space.
- LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) is the leading dark matter search experiment, now starting operations at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. LZ is expected to produce world-leading results on various dark matter interactions and observe the scattering of astrophysical neutrinos - all during a PhD timescale. In parallel, R&D towards a future next-generation experiment is under way in our Liquid Xenon Laboratory. There are also opportunities to participate in the MIGDAL experiment which will soon start taking data at RAL; the Migdal effect enhances the search for light dark matter interactions in many detector technologies.
- COMET, an experiment to search for muon-to-electron conversion, a process that is yet to be seen, but which is extremely sensitive to deviations of the universe from the Standard Model. Phase-I of the experiment is under construction and is due to take data shortly, while a further phase is being designed, with construction scheduled in the next several years.
- DUNE is a next-generation long-baseline neutrino experiment in the USA. It will have the sensitivity to make a definitive discovery of leptonic CP violation and then precisely measure this phenomenon. DUNE also promises unprecedented sensitivity to neutrino-nucleus interaction physics and neutrinos from supernovae. We are working on physics sensitivity studies, and building parts of the near detector and the electronics and software that will acquire data from the experiment.
- AION The main objective of this project is to implement a fresh approach to atom interferometry (with single-photon transitions) that provides a novel method of detecting dark matter with a new instrument, as well as major advantages for the observation of gravity waves (GW) in the long term. This new quantum technology provides a major opportunity to push measurements beyond the current sensitivity limits in fundamental physics applications, e.g. for GWs in the mid-frequency band, around 1Hz. The AION collaboration is the culmination of extensive community building and will put the UK at the forefront of this globally important venture.
- Grid computing technologies required for carrying out the data processing in association with the LHC.
- Development of new classes of position detectors, based primarily on silicon, and designing the associated complex signal processing electronics
The High Energy Physics (Experimental Particle Physics) group at Imperial College is one of the largest in the UK and has a wide and varied research programme. Information about applications can be found in the research section of the Postgraduate Prospectus, and on the John Adams Institute at Imperial WWW site.
We have about six STFC studentships available to offer to suitably qualified, eligible candidates. In addition, an STFC accelerator-science studentship is available through the John Adams’ Institute and we often have additional STFC or CASE studentships associated with specific projects.
Studentships cover fees for all EU students. In addition UK residents receive living expenses (approx. £19,688 /annum, tax free, for 2021-22). Note that non-UK EU nationals who have spent the previous three years in the UK undertaking an undergraduate degree now meet the residency requirements above. For information about STFC studentships see the STFC web pages.
Additional scholarships and funding opportunities are detailed in the Imperial College Postgraduate Prospectus and on the College Postgraduate Funding site. Students wishing to apply for postgraduate scolarships are encouraged to make contact early, ideally by December. The Postgraduate Prospectus also contains general information about admissions requirements, the application procedure, fees and scholarships, College facilities, accommodation, etc. See the Physics Department web pages for further information about the Department.
The initial application deadline for STFC-funded positions was 16th January 2023. However, the group will accept applications until all positions are filled. For other scholarships, follow the individual application guidelines.
Please use the online system linked from the College guidance on how to apply to submit your formal application to Imperial College Registry. We would be grateful if you send an email to email@example.com to let us know that you have submitted your application. This will allow us to expedite the consideration of your application.
If you have problems with the online form, please email HEP-Admissions-Panel@imperial.ac.uk and we will help and support you in completing your application.
For further information about applying for a place in the HEP group contact
You may also contact the Chair of the admissions panel Prof. Kenneth Long directly.
High Energy Physics Group
London SW7 2BW
Postgraduate Fair & Group Visit
The High Energy Physics Group will be holding an Open Day on Wednesday 14th December 2022, from 12.30pm. We will describe the research that our group pursues, and the postdoctoral study opportunities that are on offer. You will also be able to talk to group members, from current students to researchers and academics. We will also describe the application procedure in detail, so even if you are certain that you would like to apply for a position with us, you should still find it useful.
To register for this event, please fill in the online form (link above) no later than 9th December 2022.