As the new millenium(officially) dawns, KSU's HEP group stands poised to begin taking data with one of the world's two most powerful microscopes, the D0 detector at Fermilab's Tevatron proton-antiproton collider. For over two years, a team of K-Staters have poured their efforts into the construction of the D0's most critical piece of apparatus, the silicon microstrip tracker that is mounted just inches from the collision point of the trillion electron-volt beams of the accelerator. This device will be crucial in detecting short lived "b-quarks" making up the proton and neutron, that become common at the high energies of the Tevatron. With luck, a clear sample of b's will be observed that have the characteristics of the decay of an extremely heavy object called the Higgis boson. This spin 0 object, if it exists, could be the key towards inderstanding Nature's pattern of mass; for example why is the proton nearly 2000 times heavier than the electron?

The lofty "capital P" physics goals of the experiment could not be met without the crucial "small-p" physics of detector design and fabrication. The entire K-State group has taken a huge role in this endeavor. Notable pieces of the project include the development of intricate low mass "flex-cables", a project led by Noel Stanton; and the design and construction, led by Ron Sidwell, of the "interface boards" electronic modules that send the signals produced in the silicon detectors "out" and the power, control, and monitoring needed for the good health of the system "in". These two large high tech projects would not have been possible without the exceptional workmanship of KSU techinician Robin Sidwell and his student crew; the collaboration of Russel Taylor, Tim Sobering, and a crack team of student interns from KSU's Electronic Design Laboratory; and industrial partners from Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technology's Kansas City Plant. Crucial too have been our superb post-docs at Fermilab, Bill Kahl and Flera Rizatdinova. Modern instrumentation does not function without considerable work on the software needed to make the hardware work. First year student Sasha Khanov and assistant professor Regina Demina have developed a powerful package that indentifies and reconstructs particle track trajectories with silicon tracker information. This package will replace a less capable program that took over five years to produce.

Data taking in 2001 represents only the start of KSU's research into the physics of sub 10-18 meter-sized objects("nanonano-materials"!). Demina co-leads a multi-institutional group designing an upgraded silicon tracker for higher intensity running of the Tevatron, and co-leads a national consorium working to build a larger silicon tracker for the world's next generation accelerator, the 14 trillion electron-volt Large Hadron Collider, being constructed near Geneva, Switzerland. Research and development for these projectshas already begun at KSU and elswhere. HEP's Sergey Korjenevski has led the effort to add a new semi-automated probe station to the silicon detector lab in the High Bay Facility. Our impact on these very large scientific projects, already significant, is further enhanced by our growing intra-state collaboration with Alice Bean and Phil Barringer at that other university in Lawrence.

Bill Reay has launched a parallel effort towards the ultra-high energy frontier by bringing KSU into VERITAS, an acronym standing for Very Energitic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System Telescope. Did Reay get the sign of exponent wrong in 10-18 meters? Not at all. Cosmic accelerators in the universe overpower all current and conceivable particle accelerators on earth. High energy neutral particles produced by this rich family of astrophysical accelerators(examples include supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei, and gamma ray pulsars) can reach Earth undeflected by galactic magnetic fields. Upon striking the Earth's atmosphere, a shower of particles and energy is created; some of the energy appears in the form of Cherenkov radiation, the eerie blue light produced by a charged particle traversing a material at a speed exceeding that medium's speed of light. Cherenkov light can be detected by large parabolic mirror telescopes; and use of several telescopes allows imaging of the radiation source. This imaging data should yield insight into the mechanism and structure of these intensely energetic accelerators. The VERITAS array will be located at a beautiful high desert location in Montosa, Arizona near the existing Whipple Observatory. K-Staters have already spent considerable time at Whipple learning the ropes of new instrumentation and techniques, and graduate student Diptanshu Das has taken up residence there to help run the existing telescope. The high-energy astro-particle physics program of VERITAS will benefit greatly from the KSU group's expertise in detectors and electronics; and an extensive electronics integration project is to take place on campus.

Work on future projects has not stopped analysis of recently completed experiments at Fermilab. The NuTeV neutrino scattering experiment, led by Tim Bolton, completed a number of analysis projects, one of which, led by KSU post-doc Todd Adams, hints at the existence of an exotic relatively low mass neutral particle. KSU NuTeV students Drew Alton and Jesse Goldman successfully completed their PhD theses and are now busy with post-doc jobs at Michigan and Japan, respectively. The final NuTeV student, Max Goncharov, will finish up within a few months. K-State's other neutrino scattering experiment, DONUT, reported the first direct observation of the tau neutrino this year; graduate student Patrick Berghaus will expand on this work for his PhD thesis.

The group also invested considerable amount of time on the nuts and bolts of acquiring support for its ever expanding research effort. A new DOE-EPSCoR grant provided funding for quipment to research silicon detectors, and over a half-dozen other new grant proposals are still active. A large crew of undergraduates ably assisted the D0 detector construction effort on campus, and, as usual, administrator Kathleen Pierce, assisted by Staci Mathews, kept the entire operation running flawlessly.


-Tim Bolton

 

Copyright © 2001 K-State Physics Department.