Capita Selecta of Particle Physics

   Organized by Prof. Jorgen D'Hondt

Within the framework of this master course at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel divers series of lectures are organized on the level of advanced master students and starting PhD students. Typically one dedicated series of lectures around one theme per year. The student is obliged to follow these series of lectures, and supplements this with 5 additional seminars on particle physics topics. Of the special series of lectures the student will write a short report. Seminars can for example be found on the website of the IIHE (here) and on the website of the IUAP Fundamental Interactions (here).

For the second part of the course the student can select, with the approval of the professor, two topics in particle physics. For both topics a 10 page "primer" (+ references) will be written on the selected topic. The primers are written with the aim to introduce a regular master student into the topic and bring the reader to the level to understand the main research questions in the specific domain. The student will read and study the relevant literatures on the topic. The primers are to be written in English.

The evaluation will happen on the basis of the general quality of the written primers, and the short reports of the lectures/seminars.

Below the series of lectures organized over the last years for this course.

Silicon Tracking detectors at colliders

Dr. Frank Hartmann (KIT)

April 7 and 8, 2016 (announcement)

General-purpose particle detectors at colliders consist of several systems that operate synchronously to measure the properties of particles created in high-energy collisions. The tracking device is a center part of each detector and requires a high resolution to track charged particles. Over the last decades silicon detectors emerged as the main tracking detectors technology. The performance of silicon detectors however is influenced by the high radiation present around the particle collision point. Detectors are designed to mitigate this degradation. Typically several layers of silicon sensors are grouped according to an optimal geometry to measure the collision events.

Link to the slides: Lecture 1, Lecture 2, Lecture 3, Lecture 4.

The origin of cosmic rays

Prof. Stijn Buitink (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

April 9 and 10, 2015 (announcement)

Cosmic rays are the most energetic particles in the Universe. Their origin is yet unknown despite a century of intensive research with observatories all around the world. Possible sources include the remnants of supernova explosions, the jets of active black holes and gamma-ray bursts. This lecture series will give an overview of the physics of cosmic accelerators and the state-of-the-art of cosmic-ray detection.

Link to the slides will be made available.

Muon detection and reconstruction at colliders

Dr. Piet Verwilligen (INFN - Sezione di Bari)

April 9 and 10, 2014 (announcement)

Muons are very important for experimental studies in particle physics. At colliders they are produced in the decay of W, Z, H bosons as well as in the hadronization of b-quarks. They appear in the most prominent collider signatures of predicted new physics phenomena like supersymmetry. At the same time muons are crucial for the study of B and D mesons, touching concepts as CP violation. Therefore the continuous development of novel muon detection and reconstruction techniques is an active research field.

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Naturalness, Brout-Englert-Higgs mass and Supersymmetry

Dr. Alberto Mariotti (VUB)

May 4 and 7, 2012 (announcement)

The lectures will start with a review of the radiative corrections to the Brout-Englert-Higgs mass in the Standard Model and the resulting hierarchy problem. The minimal supersymmetric extension of the Standard Model (MSSM) will be introduced with a highlight on the analysis of the Brout-Englert-Higgs potential in this theory, including quantum corrections. Finally, at a moment where the collider experiments provide tantalizing results, the implication of a 125 GeV Brout-Englert-Higgs mass on supersymmetry will be discussed.

  • Main reference notes are
    • A. Djouadi, "The Anatomy of electro-weak symmetry breaking (II): The Higgs boson in the minimal supersymmetric model", Phys. Rept. 459 (2008) 1; hep-ph/0503173
    • S. P. Martin, "A Supersymmetry Primer", in G.L.Kane (ed.) Perspectives on supersymmetry II (1-153); hep-ph/9709356
    • J. Louis, I. Brunner and S. J. Huber, "The supersymmetric standard model", hep-ph/9811341

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A review of B physics

Dr. Niels Tuning (NIKHEF)

April 19 and 20, 2011 (announcement)

The tiny breaking of the discrete symmetry under the combined Charge and Parity operators is responsible for a subtle difference between matter and antimatter. These lectures will cover the theory of CP violation and its place in the heart of the Standard Model. The experimental methods to study CP violation through the decays of B-mesons will be examined in detail. From this, it will become evident that the detailed study of B-decays is a sensitive - indirect - search for New Physics, complementary to the direct search at Atlas and CMS.

  • Link to slides (part 1, part 2, part 3)
  • Main reference notes on CP violation and more (here)
  • Many references can be found in these notes
  • Reference book: "CP violation", I.I. Bigi and A.I. Sanda, Cambridge University Press (2000)

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An experimental review of Neutrino Physics

Prof. Pierre Vilain (ULB) and Prof. Gaston Wilquet (ULB)

April 6 and 7, 2010 (announcement)

After a short historical summary, the role of neutrino experiments in the
development of the electroweak Standard Model will be described. Deep inelastic
scattering of neutrinos on nucleons has also provided valuable information on the
nucleon structure, complementary to the results obtained with electron and muon
probes. In the main part of the course, the convincing evidences that neutrinos are
massive will be presented and the future prospects towards a complete
determination of the masses and the mixing matrix will be discussed. A related
fundamental question, possibly within experimental reach, is whether neutrinos are
Dirac or Majorana particles. Another quite active field of research is the study of
neutrinos from astrophysical origin. The last part of the course will try to give a
description of this field together with the possible connections between neutrino
physics and cosmology.

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An introduction to low-energy supersymmetry and its experimental aspects

Dr. Filip Moortgat (ETH Zurich)

February 9, 10 and 11, 2009 (announcement)

After a short review of the shortcomings of the Standard Model, low‐energy
supersymmetry and the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM) will be
introduced. The basic phenomenology of supersymmetric particles, including the
MSSM Higgs sector, will be discussed. Accelerator‐based search techniques for these
particles will be reviewed, as well as methods that may allow the determination
of their masses and quantum numbers. Finally, non‐accelerator searches for
supersymmetric Dark Matter will be briefly reviewed.

  • Link to slides (Part 1 and Part 2)
  • List of reference articles in the first slides of Part 1
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Prof. Jorgen D'Hondt • Vrije Universiteit Brussel • Pleinlaan 2 • 1050 Elsene • Tel.: 02/629.34.83 •