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High Energy Physics

Our History

The world’s first neutrino observation in a hydrogen bubble chamber. It was found Nov. 13, 1970, on this photograph from the Zero Gradient Synchrotron’s 12-foot bubble chamber.

Throughout its history, Argonne has played a prominent role in many of the most important high energy physics experiments of the past 50 years.

Starting from the founding of the High Energy Physics division in 1959 and the advent of the Zero Gradient Synchrotron, a powerful proton accelerator, in 1963, Argonne scientists have contributed to a number of experiments, including the discovery of the top quark and the elusive Higgs boson, measurement of neutrino properties, and observations of the cosmic microwave background, the first light” in the universe. Today, we continue in this spirit, contributing via experiments, theoretical calculations and large-scale computing to achieve answers to some of the most important and complex scientific questions in physical science.

Albert Crewe (right), Argonne director from 1961 to 1967, explains the ZGS’s Cockroft-Walton pre-accelerator.


  • 2015 – The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) collaboration was established in early 2015; Physicist Maury Goodman was elected chair of the Institutional Board.
  • 2012 – Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) announces the most accurate W mass measurement.
  • 2011 – The last run of the CDF took place and the Tevatron collider ended operations.
  • 2010-2012 – The Digital Hadron Calorimeter (DHCAL) collected data.
  • 2010 – Within the CALICE (Calorimeter for ILC Experiment) collaboration, the technology of a Digital Hadron Calorimeter (DHCAL) was developed and a physical 1m prototype using Resistive Plate Chambers (RPC) was constructed at Argonne National Laboratory. The DHCAL was then built.


  • 2007 – The last electron–proton collisions at ZEUS were recorded on June 30.
  • 2006 – b_s oscillations were observed.


  • 1999 – The Soudan 2 Calorimeter confirmed the discovery of neutrino oscillations.
  • 1994 – The top quark was discovered at CDF and D0 was announced.
  • 1992 – The ZEUS collider experiment at HERA began operation; Argonne physicists built the barrel calorimeter for this experiment.


  • 1987 – Argonne physicist led the fabrication of the central EM calorimeter.
  • 1987 – The first physics run for CDF/Tevatron collider took place.
  • 1982 – S. H. Kim and his group completed a 3.3 MJ pulse superconducting coil which was awarded a 1982 IR100 Award.
  • Rich Smith led the design and construction of a 2.8 meter length superconducting quadrupole magnet for use in a polarized proton beam at Fermilab and later in materials beneficiation studies at Argonne. 


  • 1979 – S. H. Kim developed a program for Argonne in Fusion Energy for the purpose of studying pulse superconducting coils. He designed, built and tested the first pulse superconducting magnets to model Tokomak ohmic heating coils and later was awarded a 1979 I-R100 Award. 
  • 1979 – The Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS) shutdown operations on October 1.
  • 1978 – The High Energy Physics Advisory Panel reviewed the High Energy Physics (HEP) program at Argonne and determined the HEP division should continue as users.
  • 1978 – The High Resolution Spectrometer was proposed.
  • 1977 – Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory Collider Summer Study was held; this became the founding of the Collider Detector at Fermilab.
  • 1977 – Booster II was installed, which later formed the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source in 1979.
  • 1976 – The Long Range panel was convened to study the future of the High Energy Physics division due to the approaching shutdown of the Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS).
  • 1976 – H- Injection Operations began.
  • 1973 – The world’s first high energy polarized proton beam became operational at the Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS) in July.
  • 1971 – The streamer chamber was built.
  • 1971 – Effective Mass Spectrometer operations began.
  • 1970 – Argonne scientists observed a neutrino in the hydrogen bubble chamber for the first time.


  • 1969 – Argonne became home to the World’s Largest Bubble Chamber in October, measuring 12 feet in diameter and standing 7 feet tall. The bubble chamber enhanced Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS) research by enabling scientists to study particles too small and too fast to be observed directly.
  • 1966 – The vertical damper was installed in the ZGS, which brings latency.
  • 1965 – The first liquid hydrogen polarized target was built.
  • 1964 – The 30-inch bubble chamber began operations.
  • 1963 – The first beam from the Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS) was observed.
  • 1963 – Argonne was chosen as the site of the 12.5 GeV Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS), a proton accelerator.
  • 1960 – The Particle Accelerator division occupied Argonne Building 360.


  • 1959 – The High Energy Physics division was established on July 1.
  • 1958 – The users group was formed.
  • 1957 – The Particle Accelerator division was founded at Argonne National Laboratory.
  • 1956 – The Zero Gradient Synchrotron (ZGS) scope defined it as the Midwest Regional Facility.”


  • 1946 – Argonne National Laboratory was built.