Particle Physics with the proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

The Standard Model of particle physics is able to describe and predict the interactions between fundamental particles extremely well. In 2012, the since-long predicted so-called Higgs boson was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. Despite this triumph of science, and the outstanding agreement between measurement and prediction, a diverse set of fundamental questions remain unanswered. Examples are the well-known hierarchy problem, the dominance of matter over anti-matter, the amount of dark matter in our universe, etc. With the LHC, we have the opportunity to explore a unique energy and intensity regime to study the fundamental particles and interactions, with the aim to find answers to these open questions. The expectations are high to discover new physics phenomena and to learn more about the content of the universe as well as its origin and destiny.

The CMS experiment

At CERN, the largest physics laboratory in the world, the LHC collider is operational since the end of 2009, and it will dominate particle physics for the next  decades. We collide protons at unprecedented energies and we record the collisions with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the LHC collider.  With advanced reconstruction algorithms and specific analysis techniques we can zoom into the interaction process itself to study nature at it's smallest.

Since the start of this experiment the VUB group has contributed as a leading group in this international collaboration. We perform research on detailed measurements of already known phenomena as well as the search to discover new physics. Examples are supersymmetry, b and top quarks, dark matter particles etc. With a large dataset already recorded, and much more to come, it is a very exciting time to participate in this international endeavour.


Themes for master thesis research work

(This is not an exhaustive list, merely typical examples)

  • Studies in the top quark sector: various subjects from measurements to searches for new physics, eg. flavour changing neutral currents in top decay, 4-top final states, etc.
  • Development of algorithms for identification of b and c quarks
  • Searches for dark matter particles
  • Searches for new physics with long-lived particles
  • Development of track reconstruction techniques in the CMS SiliconTracker detector
  • Detector or electronics R&D towards the CMS tracking detector upgrade.

Some subjects may also be found on the interface between phenomenology and experiment (in collaboration with Prof. Alberto Mariotti)


Promotors and permanent researchers

  • Prof. Jorgen D'Hondt
  • Prof. Freya Blekman
  • Prof. Steven Lowette
  • Prof. Petra Van Mulders
  • Dr. Denys Lontkovskyi
  • Dr. Kirill Skovpen
  • Dr. Ivan Marchesini