BMBF supports Mainz projects in particle physics

Federal Ministry of Research provides 7 million euros for cooperative research work at CERN. ATLAS experiment and development of scintillator-based particle detectors as one of Mainz's main tasks in the coming years.

University Press Release
(Photo: ETAP/JGU)

Physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are involved in numerous projects of the international large-scale research institution CERN in Geneva. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will continue to financially support this work in the coming years. For the three-year funding period until mid-2021, the BMBF provides nearly 7 million euros. "Projects at major research institutions are usually accompanied by a long-term commitment. “We therefore thank the Federal Ministry of Research for its continued support of these tasks with long-term, substantial funding,” says Prof. Dr. med. Georg Krausch, President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "The grants are also an award for our physicists, who make important contributions to the impressive research at CERN in many areas. We are also pleased that the achievements of the Mainz's physicists have been recently rewarded with the approval of the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+," says the JGU President. The BMBF funds will be particularly used for Mainz's participation in cooperation projects such as the ATLAS experiment or the NA62 experiment.

One focus of the group Experimental Particle and Astroparticle Physics (ETAP) is the research on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world, which has been in operation at CERN since 2008. "The Mainz group has taken a great deal of responsibility for the ATLAS experiment at the LHC," explains Prof. Dr. Volker Büscher from ETAP. Prof. Büscher is spokesperson of ATLAS Germany since July 2018, in which the 17 institutions working on the experiment are organised. ATLAS discovered the Higgs boson in 2012 together with another LHC experiment.

An important task of the ATLAS experts from Mainz is to analyze the data collected and recorded when the particles collide - more than 1 gigabyte per second. For this purpose, the Mainz supercomputer MOGON II, one of the fastest high-performance computers in the world, is available at the JGU. In addition, the physicists at Mainz University contribute to the upgrade of the ATLAS detector. They can rely on the infrastructure built up by the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence in Mainz, including the PRISMA Detector Laboratory. By granting the follow-up application for PRISMA+, this support will be secured in the future.

Looking to the future, the ETAP Group is developing novel particle detectors with a wide range of potential applications. In the BMBF joint project for research and development on scintillator-based detectors, Prof. Dr. Lucia Masetti, also a physicist of the University of Mainz, is the spokesperson for the joint project. "Scintillator-based particle detectors are ideal for a wide range of applications, the challenges of which we now address together as a community," says the scientist.

"Other activities we are particularly involved in, and funded by the BMBF, include the measurement of extremely rare kaon decays with the NA62 experiment, the search for axion-like particles, and machine learning," adds Büscher. The scientist notes that the LHC accelerator is in a long shutdown for the next two years since early December to carry out major upgrade work. "There is a lot to do for us during this time," says Prof. Büscher. "Then, with the LHC restarting with increased luminosity, we'll go deeper into exploring the smallest particles that make up our matter."