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Particle Physics Department

The Particle Physics Department (PPD) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) participates in and supports the UK particle physics experimental programme, providing capabilities that complement and go beyond what can be done in the universities. Our work includes:

  • Construction of large detector systems
  • Engineering
  • Computing
  • Data Analysis
  • Accelerator expertise
  • R&D for future initiatives

PPD physicists and technical staff maintain and develop many world-leading experiments within the UK programme of particle physics research, participate in the experimental programme with university groups, contribute to training of research students, and provide support and general infrastructure for university groups.

We run a number of Public Understanding of Science events for schools and the public, including Particle Physics Masterclasses. We also administer the annual RAL Summer School for Experimental High Energy Physics Students. Each year, we take on a handful of Summer Students.


STFC has a Science in Society Schools Liaison Officer covering particle physics, astronomy and other sciences.


Questions concerning the RAL studentships should be addressed to Monika Wielers, tel +44 (0)1235 445 966).

Further information about the Particle Physics Department and its experimental programme can be obtained from the Director, Particle Physics, Professor David Newbold, tel: 01235 446760.


Outreach activities


The Particle Physics Department, as part of the STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, contributes to the Council's mission through:

  • Studying the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions by designing, building and executing world-leading experiments, in partnership with the UK particle physics community, at accelerator laboratories and elsewhere; by analysing and interpreting results from these experiments; and by testing current ideas about the structure of matter and searching for new phenomena which will lead to a deeper understanding of theories
  • Performing world-leading research and development in areas closely related to the UK particle physics programme, such as particle accelerators, computing and particle physics detectors in collaboration with the UK particle physics community
  • Ensuring the efficient use through effective management of the resources allocated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council on behalf of the UK particle physics community
  • Supporting the UK particle physics community through close collaboration, and through the provision of facilities and technical expertise within the STFC Rutherford Appleton and Daresbury Laboratories
  • Designing and developing appropriate technologies for particle physics in partnership with industry, being alert to opportunities for their wider application, thus contributing to the UK's economic competitiveness and the quality of life
  • Working with other stakeholders to develop the future UK particle physics programme, and providing vision, leadership and strategic advice
  • Promoting public understanding, education and training in the field of science

The Particle Physics Department fulfils its mission through its research programme in experimental particle physics, and detector and accelerator research and development. This programme is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and deliverables and resources are agreed each year.

The PPD programme is project-based and contains a mix of projects ranging from large, complex collaborative construction projects to smaller, single-partner upgrade activities. The UK contribution to these projects is funded and managed through RAL PPD, with the exception of University staff costs.

The programme is peer-reviewed every two years by the STFC Particle Physics Grants Panel, alongside the activities of Particle Physics groups in UK universities; the most recent review was held in June 2006.

The programme has three main strands — completion of projects now in construction, exploitation and evolution of the projects now running, and development of new projects and technologies. The Department is directly involved in around 15 separate projects in several broad groups (ATLAS, CMS, Precision Weak Physics, Collider Physics, Computing and Accelerator Physics).

Project management is an integral part of PPD's departmental management arrangements and complies with the laboratory's corporate policy on project management; risk management is an integral part of the project management framework.

Staff in PPD are expected to maintain and enhance their skills, in order to enable the Department to remain a world-leading particle physics group. In order to carry out this programme, the Department needs to:

  • Maintain its position as a world-leading research group in particle physics and related areas through the excellence of its staff
  • Enable access for the UK particle physics community to the world-leading scientific and technical expertise in developing detectors and accelerators, and operating large-scale facilities, available within the STFC RAL and Daresbury national laboratories
  • Ensure that its capability in information technology and scientific computing is sufficient to support the UK particle physics programme
  • Manage the programme efficiently and effectively, in line with corporate policies and objectives on project and programme management and accountability
  • Ensure that all obligations under STFC local regulations, including health, safety and the environment, are fulfilled

Last updated: 16 November 2021


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