Elementary Particle Physics, or High Energy Physics (HEP), investigates the smallest constituents of matter and is the foundation for understanding the evolution of the Universe from the Big Bang. University of Minnesota experimental physicists have made many contributions to developing the successful Standard Model of quarks and leptons and to glimpsing the first evidence of physics beyond it. Many mysteries remain and the adventure continues, as our faculty members, research associates and students build, operate and analyze experiments at laboratories all over the world.
The tools of HEP research are giant particle accelerators, deep underground detectors and instrumentation of almost unimaginable sensitivity. At Minnesota we are engaged on all three of the frontiers of discovery that constitute the U.S. national experimental HEP program. At the Energy Frontier, our CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) group studies the Higgs boson and looks for physics “Beyond the Standard Model” with the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. At the Intensity Frontier we operate NOvA, the world’s leading “long-baseline" neutrino oscillation experiment, with a 14-thousand-ton detector at our lab in Ash River, Minnesota. Our Intensity Frontier group also plays major roles in the next big neutrino experiment (DUNE in South Dakota), in an ambitious search for a rare muon-to-electron conversion process (Mu2e at Fermilab), and in studies of states composed of heavy quarks (BESIII in Beijing). At the Cosmic Frontier we develop and use cryogenic detectors in deep mines to search for direct detection of the Dark Matter that astrophysics tells us is more than 5 times as prevalent in the Universe as ordinary matter (SuperCDMS at SNOLAB in Sudbury, Canada).