Early career award supports physicist's quest for a top quark partner
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University physicist has received the prestigious Department of Energy Early Career Research Award for his collaborative research involving the Large Hadron Collider.
Andrew Ivanov, assistant professor of physics, has received the five-year $750,000 award for his proposal titled "Quest for a top quark partner and upgrade of the pixel detector readout chain at the CMS." His is one of 61 proposals chosen for funding from the 700 proposals submitted this year.
Ivanov is using data from the Large Hadron Collider to help solve fundamental problems in particle physics. The Higgs boson was recently discovered at the Large Hadron Collider and completes the table of fundamental particles predicted in the standard model of particle physics. But the standard model does not explain why the Higgs boson has the mass that is observed and any natural explanation predicts the existence of a partner of the top quark.
While the Higgs boson was predicted and scientists knew the kind of properties it would have, scientists do not know as much about the partner of the top quark.
"It is like searching for something in a dark room when we don't know what it should look like," Ivanov said. "We need to account for various possibilities."
Ivanov is searching for this partner particle by analyzing data from the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. He also is collaborating with researchers at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, near Chicago. Fermilab's computing center also receives data from the Large Hadron Collider, and Ivanov is narrowing down this data so he can analyze it at Kansas State University.
Ivanov's project also will improve the performance of the Compact Muon Solenoid Pixel Detector system by upgrading the data acquisition readout for future high energy and high luminosity physics runs at the Large Hadron Collider. Ivanov and engineers in the university's Electronics Design Laboratory are working on the electronics to improve the detector.
The research is important to help solve the hierarchy problem, which is one of the fundamental problems in particle physics. The research also will provide a better understanding of the universe and how it works.
"For practical purposes, the knowledge we gain today will be important for future generations," Ivanov said. "We may not be able to see all the benefits of this research in our lifetimes, but this kind of research may lead to new energy sources for future generations."
The Department of Energy's Early Career Award supports research in the areas of advanced scientific computing research, biological and environmental research, basic energy sciences, fusion energy sciences, high energy physics and nuclear physics.