SFU physicists continue to advance ATLAS project, 10 years after Higgs boson discovery

July 06, 2022
ATLAS experiment during construction in 2005. The enormity of the apparatus is shown by the person standing in the lower centre of the picture. The area in the centre of the cylinder is now filled with high-tech subatomic particle detectors. (Image: ATLAS Collaboration/CERN)

SFU physicists continue to play an important role in the advancement of the ATLAS project—10 years after the July 4, 2012 announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

At the time, the SFU researchers worked on two specific “decay channels” of the Higgs boson. “The Higgs boson is central to the theory of how subatomic particles gain mass, and the universe would be a very different place without it,” says SFU physicist Michel Vetterli, the project leader for ATLAS at SFU. The discovery led to the awarding of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert.

To mark the 10-year anniversary, the ATLAS Collaboration published a comprehensive overview of the status of its knowledge of the Higgs boson in the journal Nature.

Since its discovery, the SFU Particle Physics group—which has been involved in the ATLAS project since 2001—continues to play a key role in physics analysis, including ongoing analysis of the detector data, to determine the properties of the particles emerging from the high-energy, proton-proton collisions at the LHC.

SFU was also involved in leading the creation and provision of the enormous worldwide distributed computing resources required to analyze the very large dataset from ATLAS. SFU hosts the Canadian ATLAS Tier-1 Data Centre, which is one of only 10 Tier-1 centres worldwide, to store and analyze the data.

SFU physicists have also been leading future projects, including preparations for the LHC’s “Run-3”, marking the start of the accelerator’s third extended run of data collection—which started today— delivering proton collisions to experiments at unprecedented energy levels, as well as the significant upgrades to the ATLAS detector, such as the new Inner Tracker (ITk), needed for the high-luminosity LHC, which will start taking data near the end of this decade.

SFU Physics faculty members of the ATLAS Collaboration are: Matthias Danninger, Dugan O’Neil, Bernd Stelzer, and Michel Vetterli.