Ph.D Research with the Birmingham NA62 group

Staff: Evgueni Goudzovski, Marian Krivda, Cristina Lazzeroni, Chris Parkinson, Angela Romano, Antonino Sergi, Richard Staley
Students: Maria Brigida Brunetti, Nicolas Lurkin, Andy Sturgess

The NA62 experiment at CERN uses kaon beams to investigate rare phenomena. Currently the main analysis is dedicated to the search for lepton flavour violation in the ratio of decay rates Br(K+→e+ν)/Br(K+→μ+ν). Neutrino oscillations have proved that the neutrinos can change their flavour (e, μ, τ) transforming into each other. On the contrary, flavour conservation is strictly expected in kaon decays, and any deviation would be a clear sign of new physics. Exactly such a deviation is predicted by a number of extensions of the Standard Model.

Lepton Flavour Violation

In the future, the experiment will measure extremely rare kaon decays, with the aim of exploring possible new phenomena beyond the Standard Model. In particular, the decay K+ -> pi+ nu anti-nu, with Branching Ratio of the order of 10-11, is an ideal candidate to search for new physics. The low and precisely predicted Branching Ratio of this decay mode will mean that any new physics signal will give a sizable deviation that will be easily detectable by the proposed experiment.

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NA62 offers an alternative approach to searching for new physics: rather than directly identifying new particles as LHC experiments hope to do, it will look for their appearance in loop processes. In such a way, NA62 will study the behavior of new physics under symmetry, using precision measurements.

NA62 will make use of the Grid - a next generation Internet, using advanced distributed computing techniques. It also offers the opportunity to use modern software methods, like C and C++ programming languages and the use of Object Oriented design. The computing skills acquired during the data analysis are in great demand amongst potential future employers, both in the academic research or in commercial industry or business.

The NA62 collaboration has the advantage of being substantially smaller than the LHC collaborations. This allows students to became familiar with every aspect of a particle physics experiment: design, hardware, software, simulation, and data analysis.

Students will have the opportunity to analyse the vast amount of data taken by the predecessor experiment NA48 and by NA62 in 2007-8, and also to participate to the design of the next phase of the experiment. Both activities will involve collaborations with other groups outside UK, and will require regular working visits to CERN. NA62/NA48 has an excellent record in training UK students: the smaller nature of the collaboration allows students to be at the forefront of important analyses and in a number of cases PhD students have been the leading authors of papers. A number of students have also had the opportunity to announce their own results at international conferences and to represent their collaboration at an early stage in their careers.

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