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."

ETAP group part of the network “Innovative Digital Technologies for Universe and Matter Research”

Large-scale experiments in fundamental research require more and more computing and storage resources. In order to gain further scientific insight in the future, physicists from several research institutions have now joined forces in a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop innovative digital processing methods.

BMBF Press Release

In the context of the framework programme "Erforschung von Universum und Materie – ErUM", the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this network with the name "Innovative Digital Technologies for Research on Universe and Matter" as a pilot project with a total of 3.6 million euros over the next three years. Researchers of the ETAP group are participating in this network together with other researchers from the groups of the Universities of Aachen, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Frankfurt am Main, Freiburg, Hamburg, Munich, Wuppertal and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology as well as the associated partners DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron), CERN, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Grid Computing Centre Karlsruhe (GridKa), GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and the Universities of Bonn, Göttingen and Münster. Prof. Thomas Kuhr from the LMU coordinates the network.
The participating researchers contribute their diverse experience and knowledge in the fields of distributed computing infrastructures and algorithm development to the project.

Within the next three years, the joined project will develop and test new computing systems. One promising approach is the use of virtualization technologies to tap previously inaccessible resources. The scientists are also thinking about the use of new processor architectures, which are used, for example, in graphics cards and promise better energy efficiency (Green IT). The researchers see an important pillar in the development of improved algorithms and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for Big Data analyses. Innovative methods of "machine learning" will play an important role here.

"The huge amounts of data are a great challenge for us. Innovative digital methods will be indispensable in the future if fundamental research is to advance decisively," said network coordinator Prof. Thomas Kuhr. However, it is not only physical research that faces the digital challenge. "Sooner or later, other scientific disciplines will also need powerful computing environments and will benefit from the new competences," Kuhr is certain. The joint project offers the participating young scientists an excellent opportunity to acquire comprehensive knowledge in new computing technologies. This means they are well prepared to fill leading positions in science or business in order to drive digital change forward.

The contribution of the ETAP group within this network is the replacement of existing algorithms for the real time detection and reconstruction of physics objects by deep neural networks. The group is targeting a processing rate of up to 40 MHz and a maximum response time of less than a millionth of a second. This will be sufficient to cover a large range of applications within the network. Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are the ideal choice.

The challenge is to optimally adapt the neural networks to the architecture of FPGAs, and the first trigger stage of the ATLAS experiment provides an ideal test environment for this.

PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence selected by the German Research Funding Agency

PRISMA + is the follow-up application for the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions, and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA), which has been successful in the previous Excellence Initiative and has been funded since 2012.

press release by the Germany Resaerch Funding Agency
press release of the university

Today the German Research Funding Agceny (DGF) has announce the selection of the projects that will be funded under the Excellence Initiative. An international committee of experts and the science ministers of the federal and state goverments has selected 57 out of 88 submitted projects.

The PRISMA+ project for precision physics, fundamental interactions and structure of matter which was submitted by the University of Mainz was among the selected projects.

The total amount of the requested funding is expected to be 64 million euro over the next seven years.