SUPA physicists have had pivotal roles during the first year of operations of the LHC detectors during Run 2, at 13 TeV proton-proton collision centre-of-mass energies. After the discovery of the Higgs boson, the main goals have been to characterise the main Standard Model processes at 13 TeV and to search for phenomena beyond the Standard Model. There was great excitement on 15 December 2015 when ATLAS and CMS presented their preliminary results from the 2015 data taking at a CERN seminar*, in which both experiments observe an unexpected excess in the two-photon resonant channel at around 750 GeV. The ATLAS and CMS results are consistent with a 3.6 sigma and 2.6 sigma excess, respectively (see for example Figure 1). When one looks in a wider mass window (the “look-elsewhere effect”), the global significance of the excess is smaller (2.0 sigma and 1.2 sigma for ATLAS and CMS). While the theoretical community is very excited at the prospects for new physics beyond the Standard Model, the experiments are cautiously suggesting that we should wait for the 2016 results to check whether this is a statistical fluctuation or not.
Calling on Scotland’s brightest ideas
Scotland’s leading company creation competition and start up development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities and research institutes is today (Monday 8 February) launching its 2016 programme – its biggest to date with new partnerships and a new award to attract a wider range of applicants.
In a recent publication in Nature Physics [Gonzalez-Izquierdo et al, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys3613], a team of researchers led by Prof. Paul McKenna have discovered that diffraction of ultra-intense laser light passing through a normally opaque plasma can be used to control charged particle motion. The results have potentially important implications in the development of laser-driven particle accelerators and radiation sources (which rely on controlling the motion of plasma electrons displaced by the intense laser fields) and for the investigation of aspects of laboratory astrophysics.
SUPA continues to be proud to support a range of Distinguished and International Visitors and Events. In the last year, we have supported visits by:
Again in 2014/15, we were delighted to be able to offer funding for some of our brightest and best PhD students, Postdocs and Early Career Researchers to visit partner institutions around the world to undertake collaborative research and experiments. Funding was awarded to SUPA by SFC for this programme for the fourth time in 2014/15, and some of the funded visits were:
Christopher Bryce from University of Strathclyde visited Centre de Recherche sur l’Hetero-Expitaxe ses Applications (CNRS –CHREA) in Valbonne, France to work on a project focused on the growth, fabrication and characterisation of advanced GaN-based nanostructures. While there, Christopher had the opportunity to see the operation of the new generation Metal-Oxide Chemical Vapour-Phase Deposition MOCVD reactor from AIXTRON which CNRS-CHREA had just had installed and to work with a number of researchers there. Christopher was compare the characterisation systems at CNRS-CRHEA with those he uses in his project at Strathclyde, and not only has he developed his understanding of the semiconductor growth process and how the technology of the reactors affects the wafers produced, but is hopeful of opening up new avenues of research between the two institutions.
IllumiNations, the closing event for the International Year of Light in Scotland too place on the 3rd December at Heriot-Watt University. School children and adult visitors attended a range of science exhibits, a lecture by BBC science communicator Professor Jim Al-¬Khalili and a spectacular science-based light show. SUPA shared a stand with the Institute of Physics and displayed information about IYL activities that had taken place in Scotland during year, and information on Scottish physics more widely.
Back in 2014, recognising the importance of the Year of Light to Scottish physics, and the many links to Scotland, SUPA, together sought to establish a distinct Scottish contribution to the Year’s activities, as well as playing a role in the UK and global programmes. SUPA, together with IOP Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, made a case to SFC to support a core programme of IYL2015 events in Scotland. SFC’s funding of £50k was more than matched by the SUPA universities, alongside contributions from RSE, M Squared Lasers, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Gas Sensing Solutions and others.
SUPA has recently received a further tranche of funding from the Scottish Funding Council to compete for, and participate in, European funding. The purpose of the funding, known as PEER, is to enable SUPA:
- to submit applications for European funding under Horizon 2020 and as part of that process
- to engage and build partnerships with industry, particularly (but not exclusively) Scottish SMEs
- to establish network connections, showcase skills and capabilities and participate in specific networking activities
SUPA PEER funding is available to support applications to current and future EU funding calls. This might include funding specialist consultants, finding company partners to join consortia, funding academic travel for consortium or networking meetings, or other relevant activity.
PEER funding has been successfully used to support pre-proposal consortium meetings across Europe and to attend networking events and call development events such as Photonics 21 meetings. We have also used PEER funding to help pay for consultant support. To date, 50% of proposals using PEER funded consultant support have been successful (versus 14% overall and 20% in the ICT theme).