West Lafayette, Indiana - Ongoing research in elementary particle physics will be expanded, thanks to a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund Purdue University’s High Energy Physics Group.

“One of the big themes here is to search for new particles that could explain the dark matter content of the universe,” said principal investigator Norbert Neumeister, professor of physics and astronomy. “But we are open to whatever new stuff we may find.”

Composed of six Purdue faculty, the Purdue High Energy Physics group collaborates with thousands of scientists globally on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where researchers study the interactions and behaviors of particles at their most fundamental level.

The LHC, a 17-mile-long proton-proton accelerator located in Geneva, Switzerland, is considered the largest scientific instrument in the world. In 2012, a famous elementary particle called the Higgs boson was discovered at LHC. Since then, collision energies at the LHC have been increased, and researchers now hope to discover dark matter particles.

In addition to their continued work on the CMS experiment, the group will lead new research on the Mu2e experiment at Fermi National Laboratory, employing high-intensity beam to search for neutrinoless conversions of muons into electrons. They will also investigate string- and gauge-theory duality and behavior as part of their theoretical high-energy physics research.

“The Mu2e project is searching for new particles and new phenomenon,” said John Finley, co-investigator and department head of physics and astronomy. “In particular, looking for heavier particles that are not predicted by the current Standard Model. That would be a big breakthrough in the sense of revealing some new physics that we don’t understand.”

The team works in pairs across the Mu2e experiment, the CMS experiment, and theoretical high-energy physics research. The overarching theme of these collaborative activities is to look for new discoveries in areas of physics that are not well understood, like dark matter.

“I think it’s important to highlight that this is a team of people from the department,” Neumeister said. “We try to work together.”

Co-investigators include Matthew Jones, associate professor of physics and astronomy; Andreas Jung, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; David Koltick, director of applied physics laboratory and professor of physics and astronomy; Luis Martin Kruczenski, professor of physics and astronomy.