High Energy Physics
Nineteen ninety-eight marked a year of great change for K-State high
energy physics (KSU-HEP) as the group leaped from specialized fixed-target
experiments to the high energy frontier of the D0 proton-antiproton
annihilation experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's
As so often happens in science, this did not come about by following a
simple straight-line path. The year started on a high note as the
data-taking phase of two successful neutrino experiments (called NuTeV and
DONUT--never mind the acronyms) at the Fermi Laboratory (Fermilab)
Alas, this auspicious beginning was followed by an unexpected jolt:
the premature ending of the K-State-led COSMOS neutrino oscillation experiment.
COSMOS was cancelled due the withdrawal from the experiment by a large
contingent of physicists from Japan.
Conceived by Bill Reay, Ron Sidwell, and Noel Stanton nearly a decade ago,
COSMOS would have shed much light on the central problem of neutrino mass
and a host of other problems in neutrino physics. Others have borrowed
many experimental ideas of COSMOS, and it is not improbable that this
project will resurface in the future.
COSMOS's demise also precipitated the departure of assistant professor
Donna Naples for a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh. Donna
simply did not want to give up on neutrino physics, and the opportunity to
join like-minded colleagues at Pittsburgh, her alma mater, made it too
tough for her to stay in Manhattan.
Our group has now suffered firsthand an all-too familiar phenomenon at
K-State: a young scientist develops her talents and establishes her credentials
(including a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator award) in the friendly
environs of Manhattan only to be lured away by attractions of the academic
free market. A search for Donna's replacement is now actively underway, and
we have an outstanding pool of candidate replacements. We certainly wish
Donna well at Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, even before the official end of COSMOS, we had begun receiving
overtures from leaders of Fermilab's D0 project. Freed of other
obligations, our group enthusiastically joined this world-class physics
The D0 experiment studies collisions between protons and
anti-protons at a center-of-mass energy of two trillion electron volts: the
highest energy yet achieved in collisions using accelerators. It is a
collaboration of over 400 physicists from dozens of universities, particle
accelerators, and national laboratories spread throughout the world.
a splash in such a large operation is no mean feat, but within weeks of
joining, K-State's Bill Reay was offered a leadership position in the
construction of D0's sophisticated silicon tracking system. Fermilab
wanted Bill so much that they picked up his entire salary and gave him
a place to live at the lab for a year to entice him into joining the
project's management team. Bill has put a lot of miles on his
plane commuting between Manhattan and Chicago these past 12 months!
The Department of Energy (DOE), our main funding agency, gave K-State
vote of confidence by renewing the group's research contract for three more
years. K-State received overwhelmingly positive reviews in a tough new DOE
judging procedure that pitted us in head-to-head competition with schools
such as MIT and the University of Michigan. With support from the NSF
EPSCoR program, Fermilab, K-State, and the Department of Energy, our yearly
research funding has reached $1.1 million.
The entire group is now
actively involved in D0 silicon efforts. Ron Sidwell is in charge of test
stands, Noel Stanton is designing and testing very low-mass signal
cables, and Tim Bolton is overseeing an upgrade of the
High Bay Detector Facility. This building, which formerly held the
university's motor pool, was renovated into a modern laboratory over
the past three years using funds from the DOE, K-State, and the city of
Over a $150,000 of drift chamber tracking detectors were built in the high
bay for the NuTeV and DONUT experiments. The facility is now being
outfitted with a semiconductor-class clean room and a double-shielded low
noise electronics alcove, in preparation for large-scale D0 silicon work.
In addition, the physics shop uses the south end of the high bay for its
computer-controlled milling machine, and we have even found room in the
north end of the building for K-State's solar car club to build this year's
edition of their sun-powered racer.
Electronics Design Laboratory
Another spin-off of KSU-HEP, the Kansas State Electronics Design
Laboratory has also developed into a fine research facility. Started by the
high energy group with funding from the NSF-EPSCoR program, EDL provides
advanced electronic support for research and teaching at K-State.
Headed by engineer Tim Sobering, EDL has already designed and built a good
deal of electronics for our KSU-HEP D0 effort, and has completed a
number of projects for other groups both inside and outside the physics
department. In fact, the EDL reputation extends beyond the university.
Acting Vice-Provost for Research Ron Trewyn will soon discuss EDL
activities with Kansas senator Pat Roberts.
Meanwhile, graduate students Drew Alton, Jesse Goldman, and Max
Goncharov are busy analyzing NuTeV data as part of their Ph.D. thesis
projects. Under the supervision of Tim Bolton and post-doc Todd Adams,
Drew, Jesse, and Max have already produced preliminary measurements that
they presented at last year's APS conference. Todd and Tim were
selected by the NuTeV collaboration to present some of the
experiment's first results at the prestigious International
Conference on High Energy Physics, held in Vancouver, British Columbia
this past summer.
Todd will shortly depart for the tough assignment of presenting more NuTeV
results at a conference in the French Alps. We have a fourth student,
Patrick Berghaus, living at Fermilab. Patrick works with Bill Reay, Ron
Sidwell, and K-State senior post-doc Mikhail Kubantsev on instrumentation
for D0, and also analyzes data from the DONUT experiment.
Two other graduate students, Daniel Mihalcea and Shih-Wen Yang, left
us this year with their degrees--the very first Ph.D.'s awarded for high
energy physics at Kansas State University. Daniel and Shih-Wen wrote
theses concerning the investigation of an important type of decay of
"charmed" particles. Daniel has accepted a post-doc position with the
University of Oklahoma, and Shih-Wen now works for Lucent Technologies in
New Jersey. We are sure they will enjoy success in their new
Tim Bolton, High Energy Physics