W. H. K. Panofsky Prize (American Physical Society) 2011
Invitation Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2009
Professor Douglas Bryman, J. B. Warren Chair. Particle Physics. My research in particle physics is aimed at understanding the “generation puzzle” – the confounding existence of three versions of the fundamental quarks and leptons such as the electron, muon and tau lepton. Aspects under study include the universality of interactions, suppression of generation-changing neutral currents, precisely testing Standard Model hypotheses, and searching for new effects such as the existence of high mass scales, new particles, and new interactions. Orders of magnitude improvements in sensitivity have been achieved by studying extremely rare processes which provide tight constraints on the existence of new physics effects. Important reactions have been discovered in the course of this work. The PIENU experiment at TRIUMF measures the branching ratio of pion decays to electrons and to muons. This challenging experiment, tests the hypothesis that the muon is merely a heavy electron and provides the best test of the Standard Model hypothesis of the universality of the weak interactions. High precision measurements of rare pion decays are also extremely sensitive to the existence of new particles and interactions hypothesized in many current theories and to the possible existence of heavy sterile neutrinos. We are currently developing a new experiment PIONEER to improve the precision by an order of magnitude for rare pion decays to electrons compared to muons as well as for pion beta decay.
We are also actively participating in the rare kaon decay experiment NA62 at CERN which will definitively measure the ultra-rare "golden" decay K+->pi+ nu nubar which occurs at a rate of one in a billion decays. NA62 is aimed at sensitively searching for new physics at very high mass scales by comparing the precise theoretical prediction with experimental observation. NA62 also studies many other interesting rare pion and koan decays and is developing a new search for hidden sector or dark matter particles.
Particle physics experiments which stretch the boundaries of current knowledge often require the development of new instruments which have subsequently found applications in other fields such as radiation medical imaging and geophysical imaging. My research group has specialized in the development of state-of-the-art detectors including particle tracking detectors like drift chambers and time projection chambers, and high speed electronics like 500 MHz GaAs CCD digitizers. We are currently engaged in detector R&D involving liquid krypton calorimetry and Si pixel tracking.
Group members include Douglas Bryman, Toshio Numao (TRIUMF) and postdocs Bob Velghe and Vincent Wong.