From looking at particle collisions at the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider to measuring the cosmic microwave background at the South Pole, Argonne researchers explore the elementary constituents of matter and energy, the interactions between them, and the nature of space and time. The division engages in this research through a program that combines experiment and theory to further scientific discovery, along with a program that advances accelerator technology, instrumentation and scientific computing to enable breakthroughs.
To make the next generation of world-class particle accelerators – one even grander than the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – scientists will need to either create an extraordinarily large machine or rethink the basic physics of the materials that underpin the functioning of the accelerator.
For centuries, scientists have tried to fully describe the formation and evolution of our universe, as well as its composition. At Argonne, scientists study the cosmic background radiation that formed as a result of the big bang as well as the mysterious dark matter and dark energy which combine to form more than 90 percent of our universe.
The development of new instrumentation, particularly detector technology, provides a common thread that links together a wide range of high-energy physics projects and programs. In order to better understand our universe, we need ways to build detectors with fast response that are still affordable to fabricate.
One avenue to search for particles far too heavy to be discovered at the CERN Large Hadron Collider is to investigate the properties of known particles with great precision. The muon, a heavy cousin of the electron, is well-suited for precision studies due to its relatively long lifetime and large mass
Experimental neutrino physics is focused on the measurements of mass and other properties of neutrinos that may have profound consequences for understanding the evolution of the universe. Over the last few decades, particle physicists have accumulated experimental evidence on the properties of major constituents of matter, including neutrinos, to explain how neutrinos interact with matter and how these ghostly particles propagate over long distances.
Much of the work of high-energy physics concentrates on the interplay between theory and experiment. The theory group of Argonne's High Energy Physics Division performs high-precision calculations of Standard Model processes, interprets experimental data in terms of physics both within and beyond the Standard Model, and makes predictions for new, well-motivated experimental searches that attempt to provide answers to open questions.