Introduction Public Press  

For the Press


Team Leader: Dr. Robert McPherson
Deputy Team Leader: Dr. Michel Lefebvre

ATLAS "For the Press" web site

The ATLAS Collaboration maintains a web site for the Press. It features a useful Press Kit.

CERN and the LHC

The Large Hadron Collider, located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, had its first circulating beam in September 2008. First proton-proton collisions at 0.90 TeV occured on November 23rd 2009. They were quickly followed by collisions at 2.36 TeV on December 7th 2009, an energy world record for collisions produced in the laboratory. On March 30th 2010, proton-proton collisions reached 7 TeV center of mass energy and data was collected until October 11th 2011. Since April 12th 2012, the LHC operates at 8 TeV center of mass energy, the highest energy collisions ever produced in the laboratory. The LHC is scheduled to undergo improvements during 2013 and 2014 and resume operation for physics late in 2014, perhaps at 14 TeV. The research programme of the LHC has already yielded many results. On July 4th 2012, both the ATLAS and CMS collaborations announced the discovery of a new particle, a boson consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson. The collected LHC data allows scientists to explore space and time, and the fundamental laws of nature to unprecedented levels. A team of UVic scientists participated in the design and construction of the ATLAS detector which studies the particle collisions. UVic scientists are currently very active in the analysis of the collected data, and in the development of improvements for the ATLAS detector.

The ATLAS-Victoria group

The ATLAS Collaboration was founded in 1992, and includes the University of Victoria as one of its founding institutes. The UVic ATLAS group was led by Prof. Michel Lefebvre, and included Prof. Alan Astbury and Prof. Richard Keeler. Prof. Lefebvre was the founding Spokesperson of the ATLAS-Canada Collaboration. The ATLAS-UVic group has been growing, and now also includes Dr. Justin Albert, Prof. Robert Kowalewski, Prof. Robert McPherson, and Prof. Randy Sobie. Both McPherson and Sobie are Institute of Particle Physics Scientists. Prof. Robert McPherson has been the Principal Investigator of the ATLAS-UVic group since 2003, and was elected Spokesperson of the ATLAS-Canada Collaboration in 2007. The particle physics expertise at UVic goes hand in hand with its close relation with TRIUMF, Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. TRIUMF staff located at UVic played crucial roles in the construction of the ATLAS experiment.

The UVic group is currently composed of over 25 scientists, including students, research associates, technicians, computer experts, engineers and physics professors. Since 1992, the ATLAS project at UVic provides unique opportunities for the training of highly qualified personnel. Many former UVic-ATLAS members now hold permanent positions in top institutions in Canada and abroad.

The ATLAS-UVic group has made crucial contributions to the design, development and construction of the ATLAS detector since 1992. UVic's contributions focused on detector components, called calorimeters, specialized in the measurement of the energy of particles. The chosen technology features liquid argon as active medium, and makes use of a novel geometrical design optimized in part at UVic. From 1992 to 2004 UVic scientists participated in the prototyping of calorimeter detectors, in the testing of these detectors with particle beams, and in the construction of the final full size ATLAS components. Since liquid argon is very cold, about -188 degrees Celsius, the calorimeters must be enclosed in purpose-built cryostats. A critical component of such cryostats are its cryogenic feedthroughs, which allow nearly 200,000 electrical signals from the calorimeters to reach the outside world. Most of these feedthroughs were constructed in UVic between 1997 and 2002, with the support of an $4.0M NSERC Major Installation Grant. Members of the UVic team spent considerable time at CERN integrating these components on the final ATLAS detector.

Since 2005 the UVic-ATLAS group has been heavily involved in the final preparation of the detector leading to first collisions. This commissioning work involves the testing of aspects of the ATLAS detector, now in its final location in a large cavern underground where proton beams will collide. UVic scientists develop and maintain computer software and methods that are used to monitor the detector operations, and to ensure that the recorded data is of the highest quality. Most importantly, UVic scientists are developing strategies and software for the analysis of the collisions in order to be ready for the detection of new phenomena, such as the Higgs particle, supersymmetric particles, or the existence of space dimensions beyond the three we experience in everyday life. UVic scientists are currently actively analyzing the data collected at the LHC.

The Canadian involvement in ATLAS and the LHC

Canadian involvement in ATLAS and the LHC has placed us in a prominent position in the forefront international science project of the decade. In total Canada has invested $70 million of the $8 billion total in equipment that is now a crucial part of the CERN LHC accelerator complex and the ATLAS particle physics experiment. Canadian researchers have received an additional $30 million to fund graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and their research on ATLAS. TRIUMF has provided staff and technical support to make these contributions a reality. As a result of these investments and the resulting scientific and technical expertise Canada is a respected partner at CERN and in the international science community.

No single country could afford to build the $8 billion LHC project on its own. ATLAS has been built by researchers from more than 150 universities and laboratories in 35 countries. 150 Canadian scientists (faculty, lab staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students) from eleven institutions across the country work at CERN, alongside 2000 other scientists from every corner of the globe, on the ATLAS experiment. Canada has made important contributions to the LHC, ATLAS and the world-wide computing grid now primed to digest the ATLAS data.

In 1995 TRIUMF was given the mandate to act as Canada's main connection with CERN. It was provided with $42 million of federal funding over ten years to develop and construct components for the LHC. These projects were completed on time and in budget in close collaboration with Canadian industry. Over 90% of our LHC funding has been spent in Canada. There have been a number of spin-offs from this activity. I.E. Power, Inverpower and Digital Predictive Systems in Ontario gained expertise in high current power supply design and fabrication and have competed successfully for an additional $10M in contracts from major international labs. ALSTOM-Canada, in Tracy, Quebec improved assembly tolerances for LHC magnets benefiting their main business, the fabrication of hydro generators. Canadians were instrumental in the construction of the ATLAS detector. ATLAS construction was supported by a $12 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Canadian contributions to the ATLAS detector were completed on time and on budget, are now installed in the ATLAS experiment where they are currently successfully used to record the LHC collisions.

ATLAS will produce several Peta-bytes (millions of Giga-bytes) of data per year. Canada has constructed a Tier1 computing centre at TRIUMF funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) at the levels of $12 million and $4 million, respectively. The primary role of the Tier1 centre is the processing of raw ATLAS data which will be used by physicists to understand what is going on in the high energy proton collisions. The final analyses will be performed largely on the Tier 2 computing centres located at university sites, funded by the CFI National Platforms Fund. The combined Canadian Tier1 and Tier2 centres give us "made in Canada" physics analysis ability, positioning ourselves to be leaders in extracting ATLAS physics over the coming years.