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Physicist awarded $1.4M to continue work at CERN

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Mitch Wayne 700

University of Notre Dame physicist Mitchell Wayne was awarded $1.4 million for continued work on the Phase I upgrade of the Compact Muon Solenoid Detector at the Large Hadron Collider at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Notre Dame is collaborating with several other U.S. universities to upgrade the CMS detector so it can continue to operate efficiently at higher energies for a longer time and at a higher rate, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant abstract. The recent award is part of a $9.3 million cooperative agreement through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the project that began in 2014. It is expected to continue through May 2019.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, an underground particle collider in Geneva, Switzerland, is the most powerful collider in the world. The CMS experiment was one of two taking place at the LHC that detected the Higgs boson, a particle that bridged the gap in the understanding of the Standard Model of Physics, in 2012. As the LHC is upgraded, the detectors also need to be upgraded.

With the $1.4 million grant, Wayne and his team at Notre Dame will build 200 new hadronic calorimeter optical decoder units, which will be shipped and installed on the detector.  At CERN, two Notre Dame scientists under Wayne’s direction are developing new photodetectors that will sense and quantify the light signals produced in the hadronic calorimeter, which is designed to measure the energy of particles produced by the particle collisions in the LHC.

High school students and teachers will also participate through Notre Dame’s summer QuarkNet program, assisting with component fabrication while learning about high-energy particle physics. QuarkNet is a national education and outreach program sponsored by the NSF and the Department of Energy, and comprises more than 50 centers across the country.  Leadership of the national QuarkNet program is shared between Wayne and Marjorie Bardeen at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located west of Chicago.

Originally published by Deanna Csomo McCool at on January 10, 2018.