DPhil projects

Information for home and EU applicants

Studentships currently open for applications:

Dr Suzie Sheehy

High intensity accelerator physics using a Paul ion trap

This project will focus on implementing a novel tabletop-sized experimental system to test ground breaking concepts in particle accelerator physics.

Particle accelerators which can provide very intense beams of hadrons are critical for future developments in particle physics and societal applications. Accelerators are usually based on linear focusing systems, but the dynamics of intense particle beams is inherently non-linear. Recently, ideas have arisen for new accelerators that may allow an increase in beam power of up to two orders of magnitude using concepts such as ‘Non-linear Integrable Optics’ (NIO). To circumvent both computational and experimental limitations, this research uses a scaled experimental system known as a Paul ion trap to address some of the most challenging questions in the field of intense particle beam dynamics.

The ultimate goal of this DPhil project, together with other group members, is to design and build a novel non-linear Paul trap to demonstrate Non-linear Integrable Optics (NIO). Depending on the student’s interest, the project may also involve the development of novel diagnostics sufficient to characterise the trapped ions. Ultimately, this research could lead to important developments not just in physics, but also in areas as diverse as medicine and energy.

The student will also work closely with colleagues in the Intense Beams Group at the STFC ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and a range of opportunities for international travel for experimental collaborations and conferences are available.

Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours, as a minimum, in physics. This would normally be an undergraduate masters' degree, known as an MPhys in the UK and taken over four years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or over five years in Scotland, though international equivalents are also considered.

Development of fixed-field accelerators with future application to radioisotope production

This project will focus on the development of a compact, high power accelerator with high reliability, low maintenance and shielding requirements and low energy usage. In particular, the student will explore the accelerator physics questions underpinning the development of compact strong focusing accelerators (Fixed Field Accelerators or FFAs), which are currently being considered for a number of applications including future neutron sources and radioisotope production. This type of accelerator has never been operated at high power before, making this a very exciting time in the field.
High intensity hadron accelerators are vital for many future scientific facilities and societal applications. They are also a fascinating area of physics research, pushing the limits of theoretical, computational and experimental techniques. While a few design ideas have emerged in the field, a major open research question is: “how can we incorporate strong focusing into a compact cyclotron-like accelerator, and will this allow a significantly increased beam current?” Some further research questions that may be addressed during this DPhil include investigating the fundamental limitations in terms of instabilities in these accelerators, the design of collimation schemes to ensure that beams are accelerated cleanly and with low losses and detailed simulation studies of a proposed prototype accelerator in the UK.
Ultimately, this Fixed Field Accelerator (FFA) may replace the commonly used cyclotrons used for radioisotope production for life-saving medical procedures.
The student will work closely with colleagues in the Intense Beams Group at the STFC ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and a range of opportunities for international travel for experimental collaborations and conferences are available.

Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours, as a minimum, in physics. This would normally be an undergraduate masters' degree, known as an MPhys in the UK and taken over four years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or over five years in Scotland, though international equivalents are also considered.

Dr James Frost

Observing Dark Matter Mediator and Higgs Boson Decays to bb at the LHC

The Particle Physics group seeks an excellent DPhil candidate to perform research within the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN's "Large Hadron Collider" (LHC), a proton-proton collider currently collecting a large amount of data at the unprecedented energy of 13 TeV.

The goal of the proposal is to search for evidence of dark matter and new particles at the LHC. The successful candidate will focus on innovative analyses searching for a pair of close-by b-quark jets with an additional radiated jet in the event. This analysis signature probes the nature of dark matter interactions through its sensitivity to scalar dark matter mediators which decay to a pair of b-quark jets with an associated 'initial state radiation' jet.

This analysis is also sensitive to boosted Higgs boson decays, paving the way for measurements of the dominant b-quark pair decay mode in a new channel. Though this channel is the dominant Higgs boson decay, traditional analyses are challenged by the large, irreducible Standard Model backgrounds.

The candidate will develop experimental techniques for the optimal reconstruction and calibration of large jets from the decays of heavy particles (such as the Higgs boson), the identification of the two b-quark jets within them, and means of discriminating them from the huge number of background events.

The Oxford ATLAS group is a strong and diverse team with a range of physics expertise and a strong analysis track record in the ATLAS collaboration. Part of the work will be an ATLAS authorship qualification task that will be chosen taking into account the interests of the Oxford ATLAS group and the candidate. Funding is included to attend collaboration meetings and workshops. The option of a longer-term stay at CERN (of up to 18-months) during the 4-year DPhil programme is available.

Requirements

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours, as a minimum, in physics. This would normally be an undergraduate masters' degree, known as an MPhys in the UK and taken over four years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or over five years in Scotland, though international equivalents are also considered.

If you would like to apply for one of these studentships, please visit Graduate Admissions

Deadlines for applications for these projects for admission in October 2018 are: 29 June 2018. Please note that candidates will be informed that the University will accept applications and references on deadline days until 12 noon UK time.

Information on our research areas can be found in our list of thesis topics. Please note the only projects open for applications are listed above.

The Graduate Timetable that students will follow during the first year can be seen here Michaelmas Term, Hilary Term and Trinity Term the timetables may change slightly from year to year due to lecturer availability.

Further information:

Contact:
Secretary of Graduate Studies
Sub-department of Particle Physics
Denys Wilkinson Building
Keble Road
Oxford
OX1 3RH
(Tel: +44 (0)1865 273360)