PhD Studentships and Postgraduate Opportunities in High Energy Physics

We are looking for prospective PhD students to work with us on a range of exciting projects in particle physics.

Funding

We offer fully-funded STFC studentships (for UK nationals and UK-based students only), Graduate Teaching Assistant PhD positions (for EU+Swiss students), as well as a number of studentships funded through other sources. Click here to see the list of currently funded studentships available.

We also welcome and support prospective students who are either able to self-fund their PhD studies or are planning for or have already secured a funded PhD scholarship. We can point interested candidates to suitable schemes. More information about the level of funding needed to self fund is available here.

How to apply

Any student interested in PhD studentship in our group should contact our postgraduate studies director Dr Andy Mehta and also make a formal application to the University of Liverpool using the webform available from this page. Make sure to indicate that you are interested in a PhD position in the area of particle physics. When interested in a specific research area we also recommend that you contact one of the supervisors listed for that area.

Deadline

Students interested in applying for a PhD position are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. For the fully-funded STFC studentships students should submit an application as soon as possible. We will consider all applications but only have a limited number of funded places, other schemes are also available.

English Language requirement

EU or international students whose first language is not English are usually required to provide an IELTS (or equivalent) test score to demonstrate their proficiency in English. See this link for full details.


Experiments

You can join one of our research groups and work on exciting collaborations:

  • Large Hadron collider experiments at CERN: ATLAS and LHC-b
  • Neutrino programme: T2K in Japan, SNO+ in Canada, DUNE and SBND at Fermilab US.
  • The high-precision experiment g-2 at Fermilab
  • Astro-particle physics using the Cherenkov Telescope Array
  • Experiments in preparation: dark matter (LZ), dark energy, a future Higgs factory (ILC/CLIC), Long baseline neutrino experiments.
  • A rare kaon decay experiment at CERN: NA62

We also have a very active research and development programme to develop detector technologies:

  • Silicon/CMOS trackers
  • Two-phase Liquid Argon neutrino detectors: ARIADNE

We also adapt some of these technologies to applications outside our field including use in the Nuclear Sector for Reactor Monitoring with Antineutrinos, medical, security and commercial areas.

Many of our PhD studentships include the opportunity to work in one of the major particle physic labs for a period of up to 18 months.

Possible PhD topics in the Liverpool Particle Physics group include:

Physics at the energy frontier with the ATLAS experiment.

Supervisors: Jan Kretzschmar, Sergey Burdin, Andy Mehta, Max Klein, Uta Klein, Monica D’Onofrio, Yangan Gao and Nikolaos Rompotis

The first run of the ATLAS experiment at only half its ultimate centre-of-mass energy led to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 as well as a lot of other exciting physics results.

The LHC has since been upgraded and restarted in 2015 at the full 13 TeV centre-of-mass energy. This has opened a window for the ATLAS experiment to search for new physics which may exist given our current understanding of the Universe. New physics ought to be discovered, either in searches for new particles and phenomena or in precise measurements of processes involving already discovered particles, including the Higgs, W and Z bosons and the top quark. Our ATLAS group offers PhD projects in all areas of this broad physics programme. The ATLAS group also has a strong involvement in the R&D for the ATLAS Silicon tracking detectors.The Liverpool group is designing and will build upgraded trackers with state-of-the art technology for the upgrade of the LHC to allow much higher luminosities to be collected. PhD project are also available within the hardware development activity. 

Many of our PhD positions offer the possibility of spending an extended period at CERN. We also have offer joint positions with the DESY research centre in Hamburg Germany, where your time would be spent between Liverpool and Hamburg with the possibility of extended visits to CERN.


Neutrino Physics

Supervisors: Neil McCauley, Costas Andreopoulos, Kostas Mavrokoridis, Christos Touramanis and Joachim Rose

The neutrino group at Liverpool has a wide experimental programme examine the key questions in neutrino physics. We study neutrino oscillations and search for CP violation utilising long baselines at the T2K experiment in Japan and are preparing the next generation of these experiments at DUNE in the US and at Hyper-Kamiokande in Japan. We search for neutrinoless double beta decay to measure neutrino mass and the character of neutrinos at the SNO+ experiment in Canada.

 Locally in Liverpool we carry out research and development for the next generation of neutrino detectors using liquid Argon. We have recently secured ERC funding for the development of a two phase liquid argon detector utilizing a novel camera readout approach (ARIADNE). Opportunities are available across our programme, for example at T2K you will get the opportunity to spend some time in Japan supporting the ECAL operation of the near detector. You will also perform neutrino oscillation studies.


Physics at the energy frontier with the LHCb experiment

Supervisors: Themis Bowcock, David Hutchcroft, Tara Shears

The LHCb experiment, at the LHC, is designed to investigate CP-violation, search for New Physics, and perform precise studies of W and Z bosons in a region unexplored by other experiments. Our group has a strong involvement in the LHCb electroweak and B physics programmes, and we offer PhD places in both areas. We also have responsibility for running the main silicon detector, and will construct its replacement for the upgrade to LHCb; giving opportunities for involvement in hardware construction and testing to interested students.


Charged lepton flavour violation in the mu2e (Fermilab) and mu3e (PSI) experiments.

Supervisors: Joost Vossebeld, Themis Bowcock and Laura Harkness-Brennan

The Liverpool group will start a participation in the mu2e and mu3e experiments at Fermilab and PSI. Two experiments that wlook for evidence of charged lepton flavour violation (cLFV) in extremely rare (less than 1 in 1016) muon decay processes. Critical detector components are foreseen to be built in Liverpool. In particular, Liverpool expects to host a major part of the construction of the mu3e MuPix HV-CMOS tracker and of the mu2e Stopping Target Monitor Germanium detectors. Assembly work for these activities will start in April 2017.

PhD students on these experiments would join the research teams working on the development and construction of these detectors and on quality assurance measurements for the HV-CMOS and germanium detectors. For mu3e first data will arrive in 2018 and we expect students to also work on the preparation for the analysis of these first data and ultimately to contribute to the first publications of the experiment on cLFV muon decays. By early 2019, mu3e results are expected to outperform the current world-best limits from the previous SINDRUM experiment.

The proposed programme will offer you an excellent training by having the opportunity within the PhD to contribute to the construction, commissioning, simulation and physics phase of a single experiment. There will be periods during which you will travel regularly to PSI or Fermilab.


The Search for Dark Energy with Atom Interferometry

Supervisor: Jon Coleman

An experiment is under development for to investigate “dark energy” in the Universe by means of laboratory experiments which push at the “precision frontier” to find deviations from expectation given present understanding of the laws of physics. The consequences of dark energy have the potential to show up terrestrially. An atom interferometer is being developed with the aim of probing anomalous gravitational effects which could be due to the dark contents of the vacuum and can be interpreted as dark energy.


Reactor Monitoring with Antineutrinos

Supervisor: Jon Coleman

The Particle Physics group at the University of Liverpool is carrying out tests of prototype anti-neutrino detector for Reactor Monitoring. After successful tests at the Wylfa nuclear reactor, the detector has been returned to Liverpool to undergo a series of upgrades. There is the opportunity for interested students to be involved in all parts of the experiment from the development of detection technology to the modelling and analysis of ant-neutrino data from the reactor.


Development of High Voltage CMOS pixel detectors for future physics experiments

Supervisors: Joost Vossebeld, Gianluigi Casse

The industry standard HV-CMOS technology is a novel attractive solution for tracking charged particles in high energy physics experiments. The Liverpool PP group works on the development sensors using this technology to meet the challenging requirements on tracking detectors of future experiments in particle physics. Examples are the Future Circular Collider proton proton (FCC-pp) facility, the Compact Linear Collider at CERN (CLIC), The LHCb phase 3 VeLo detector upgrade, a polarimeter for a future proton EDM experiment or the high beam rate 2nd phase of the mu3e experiment at PSI.

Working with the team in Liverpool and our partners at FBK CMM (Trento), students will be closely involved with the active international R&D programme on HV-CMOS technology. They will work on the design and layout of the circuitry for these "smart sensors" using advanced design software packages. The student will also actively participate in the evaluation of prototype devices in laboratory and in test-beam measurements. The student would share his or her time between Liverpool and FBK-CMM. The research work has a high content of applied physics and detector science and will provide advanced skills in these areas.


LZ

Supervisor: Sergey Burdin

Existence of Dark Matter which has mass 5 times higher than the mass of ordinary matter in the Universe is supported by many astronomical measurements. There are strong indications that some unknown Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) make the largest contribution to the Dark Matter. Therefore a lot of searches for New Physics are motivated by the Dark Matter. These searches could be divided into 3 subgroups: indirect, collider and direct. The direct searches look for interactions of Dark Matter particles with ordinary matter and a positive result in these searches would provide the most compelling explanation for the Dark Matter.

LZ is a large scale 2nd generation experiment being built for the direct Dark Matter searches. It has been approved by both DOE (USA) and STFC (UK). The LZ experiment will have the best sensitivity among all the experiments with similar timescale for particles with masses from 10GeV to 10TeV. The LZ detector will consists of 7 tonnes of liquefied xenon as the target material which will be surrounded by outer detector made of gadolinium loaded liquid scintillator (20 tonnes) and water (230 tonnes). The detector will be based in the former Homestake gold mine (South Dakota, USA) at the depth of about 1 mile. Though the rocks will protect the detector from cosmic radiation, the water and liquid scintillator will form an additional active veto system protecting from very rare remaining cosmic muons as well as from external and internal radiation.

The Liverpool group joined the LZ project in 2014. The technical contribution to the project is the optical calibration system for the outer detector. The Liverpool group will be actively involved into the data analysis.

The detector installation will start in 2019 with data taking in 2020. The PhD project will be devoted to the tests, construction and validation of the optical calibration system; simulation of the signal and background events in the LZ detector and in particular in the outer part; analysis of the first data from the LZ experiment. Being an Outer Detector expert the student will be leading neutron background studies which are essential for the DM results. The timing of the PhD starting in October 2017 is perfect for the LZ project as the student will participate in all the crucial stages of the experiment.


Contact:

Dr. Andy Mehta 
Particle Physics PhD Admissions
Department of Physics
Oliver Lodge Laboratory
University of Liverpool
Liverpool
L69 7ZE

Tel: +44 (0)151 794 3395

Email: Mehta@liverpool.ac.uk