Summer Students
23 Feb 2012



PPD Summer Students



Each summer, we take on around eight Summer Students. They get to work with our staff at RAL on one of the projects in which we are involved. Studentships are typically 2 months, in the period June to September.

For the latest information on PPD Summer Studentships and how to apply, please see the new web pages (link opens in a new window). The following refers to old summer student projects.


How to Apply

See our Advert for 2013 (PDF - 473kB - link opens in a new window) for more information. Application forms can be found on the STFC Vacation Student page (link opens in a new window). We also ask for a letter of recommendation from your university tutor.  

The cut-off for applications is 14 April 2012. We hope to come conclusions by early in May.

There is a certain amount of flexibility in start/end dates and we will try to match selected students to suitable projects.

Projects for 2013


Level-1 Trigger Algorithm studies

The ATLAS Level-1 Calorimeter Trigger makes a real-time decision on whether to keep data from a particular physics collision within about 2.5 microseconds using custom pipelined hardware processors. The beam intensity of the LHC is expected to increase gradually over the coming years of operation, eventually exceeding the original design parameters by up to 5 times. The Level-1 Calorimeter Trigger system must be upgraded to be able to cope with the associated higher data rates. New algorithms will be needed to increase the selectivity of the trigger and new hardware processors must be developed to cope with the higher data rates. The successful student will become involved in studies for the upgraded system.

Dates: 8 weeks in the window July-Sept 2013 (inclusive).

Requirements: The student should have an interest in the technical aspects of particle physics experiments and have some programming experience, ideally in C++.

HLT Tracking Triggers

The ATLAS Trigger system makes fast, real-time, decisions on whether to keep data from interesting proton-proton collision events to be studied later, or discard them. We can only keep about 1 in 100,000 collisions. The High Level Trigger (HLT) includes fast software algorithms that process information from the Inner Detector to find charged particle tracks. Because of the huge number of particles produced in LHC collisions this task takes a lot of computing power – almost half of the HLT farm of 17,000 processors is taken up by the task of reconstructing tracks in real time. As an upgrade for 2015, ATLAS is developing custom-built electronics (called the Fast TracKer, FTK) as a way to find tracks before the start of the HLT. You will analyse data from a software emulation of FTK in order to compare results with the current trigger and develop new triggers based on FTK information.

Dates : flexible dates within 3 Jun - 6 Sep.

Silicon Tracker Upgrade 

ATLAS is one of two general purpose experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.  A Letter of Intent was recently submitted documenting proposals to upgrade the tracking detector for higher luminosity, and we are an active part of this collaboration. 

In the coming months, two prototype strip tracker staves will be populated with silicon modules at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.  An opportunity exists for a student with interests in detector hardware to participate in the testing of these prototypes, continuing the development of our data acquisition software and test procedures whilst learning about silicon strip sensors and front end electronics.


Track trigger simulation studies for phase 2

This work will include several aspects: 

Firstly, a study of exotic Higgs: The student will simulate the production and decay of these with the CalcHep program, and then make histograms to understand what is going on with the ROOT program. Knowledge of C++ would be an advantage.”

Then either: Use simulated LHC events to study the expected performance of a `L1 track-trigger’, which might be incorporated into CMS in about 10 years time;

Or: Extend a CMS search for long-lived exotica particles decaying to dimuons to much longer lifetimes, using muons reconstructed in the CMS Muon Chambers alone”.


System tests of the control of a uTCA crate

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is partnering with Universities and other laboratories to develop an improved trigger system for the CMS experiment at CERN. The CMS group at RAL is focussing their attention on building a general electronics infrastructure in which the new trigger system (and other upgraded CMS subsystems) will be operated.

This means that we are taking commercia l el e ctronic equipment standardized by telecommunications industry, adding custom electronics modules for CMS-specific tasks, and then write software and firmware required to control the entire system and monitor its state. Our activities centre around two test setups, one of which is located at RAL, the other one at CERN.

As our vacation student, you will take responsibility for operating the setup at RAL, developing test procedures in software and (depending on your interest and/or prior experience) firmware and running extensive tests. This project spans a very broad range of particle physics related technical tasks, covering work with hardware, firmware and software - and all that targeted at making one of the most crucial components of the LHC physics programme possible.

Searches for double resonances in dilepton spectra or Feasibility of searches for vector-like quarks

The CMS detector is one of two general purpose detectors at the Large Hadron collider.

Data collected in 2011 and 2012 has yielded the exciting observation of the Higgs boson and the data is currently being analysed to search for evidence of so called "new physics"; that is physics beyond our current understanding of the fundamental structure of matter. The CMS group leads a number of such analyses and the student will work with the data collected in 2012, at a centre of mass energy of 8 TeV, to search for evidence of new particles. The analysis will either be to look for heavy particles that decay to leptons or a new type of particle postulated, vector-like quarks, which appear in many models of new physics.

Dark Matter

Calibration system for DEAP-3600

This project is associated with dark matter detection with DEAP-3600, a 3.6 Tonne LAr detector which is now under construction at SNOLab in Canada. It success depends critically on detailed understanding of the detector to achieve the required background suppression. The three parameters DEAP-3600 employs to reject backgrounds are reconstructed energy, radius, and pulse shape. The detector calibration programme for which the UK team (RHUL, Sussex Univ and RAL) is responsible is essential for determining the detector response in both energy and radius. The student, working under the supervision of Dr. Pawel Majewski, would primarily participate in:

  1. Simulation of DEAP-3600 response to high-energy gamma rays, which includes energy and position reconstruction
  2. Design of the gamma calibration source deployment system for DEAP- 3600

Dates: From 5 Aug. 

New Detector Inititiatives

Testing the Cherwell silicon chip

Advanced silicon detectors are at the heart of many particle physic detectors and astronomy. They are used to detect the passage of sub-atomic particles through matter and as cameras in telescopes to detect light. They also form the basis of many commercial products like digital cameras, phone cameras and medical imaging. You will have the opportunity to test the response of a new type of sensor to cosmic rays, infra-red light, temperature and high intensity lasers. You will design the tests, run the apparatus, and analyse the data.

Dates: flexible

Requirements: The project would suit someone interested in understanding advanced technology. Some programming experience would be helpful, ideally in C++.


Practical help 

Transport: (link opens in a new window)

Accommodation: (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window) (link opens in a new window)



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