Theoretical Particle Physics

Student Projects

Bachelor projects

The Standard Model of elementary particle physics has been extremely successful at describing the interactions of elementary particles up to the energy scales that have so far been reached at accelerators. Similarly, the much younger "Concordance Model" of cosmology appears to be in very good agreement with observations. Both models leave open important questions, though. Both will also be challenged by new experiments and observations that have recently started. The research of the VUB theory group addresses a number of fundamental theoretical questions and tries to make contact with experiments and observations wherever possible.

The group currently consists of 2 faculty members, 4 postdocs, 5 PhD students and 3 Master's students. It is very international (e.g. all postdocs and 2 PhD students were recruited abroad) and works very closely with groups at ULB (Brussels) and KUL (Leuven), with which it has two joint seminars every week. It is strongly involved in the International Solvay Institutes, to which all group members belong.

The traditional focus of the group has been on string theory (a proposed theoretical framework for unifying all fundamental interactions including gravity) and supersymmetric field theory (supersymmetry is an important candidate for physics beyond the Standard Model as well as an important ingredient in string theory). A more recent emphasis has been on applying string theory to cosmology, in particular to the study of the very early universe.

Jointly with our experimental colleagues, we are currently founding a new group that will work on particle phenomenology. Its aim is to start with theoretical models of supersymmetry and put in place a chain of links all the way to the data that are now starting to be collected at the LHC collider at CERN.

Bachelor's projects in our group focus on topics in theoretical physics that go beyond the material taught in class. A precise topic is chosen based on the interests of the student. Depending on the topic and the taste of the student, more or less emphasis can be put on literature study and/or concrete computations.

Examples of Bachelor's projects performed in the last few years in our group:

  •     Path integrals and quantum mechanics
  •     Wormholes
  •     Group representations and elementary particles
  •     Entanglement in quantum mechanics
  •     Lie groups and algebras in quantum mechanics
  •     The Bethe ansatz for the Heisenberg ferromagnet

Master's Thesis

The Standard Model of elementary particle physics has been extremely successful at describing the interactions of elementary particles up to the energy scales that have so far been reached at accelerators. Similarly, the much younger "Concordance Model" of cosmology appears to be in very good agreement with observations. Both models leave open important questions, though. Both will also be challenged by new experiments and observations that have recently started. The research of the VUB theory group addresses a number of fundamental theoretical questions and tries to make contact with experiments and observations wherever possible.

The group currently consists of 2 faculty members, 4 postdocs, 5 PhD students and 3 Master's students. It is very international (e.g. all postdocs and 2 PhD students were recruited abroad) and works very closely with groups at ULB (Brussels) and KUL (Leuven), with which it has two joint seminars every week. It is strongly involved in the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, to which all group members belong.

The traditional focus of the group has been on string theory (a proposed theoretical framework for unifying all fundamental interactions including gravity) and supersymmetric field theory (supersymmetry is an important candidate for physics beyond the Standard Model as well as an important ingredient in string theory). A more recent emphasis has been on applying string theory to cosmology, in particular to the study of the very early universe. Master's students are welcome to work on a broad variety of topics in this field.

Jointly with our experimental colleagues, we are currently founding a new group that will work on particle phenomenology. Its aim is to start with theoretical models of supersymmetry and put in place a chain of links all the way to the data that are now starting to be collected at the LHC collider at CERN. This research is open to Master's students as well.

We therefore propose the following broad themes for a Master's thesis:

  •     Topics in string theory and theoretical cosmology
  •     Models of supersymmetry breaking and the LHC

If you are interested in participating in one of these projects, please contact Prof. Ben Craps and/or Prof. Alexander Sevrin.

Further details on our group may be obtained from the following web sites: