Forthcoming PPRP meeting, April 2022

The PPRP meeting scheduled for April 2022 will be held at University of Birmingham. The meeting will be face to face, the applicant’s presentation and the follow up Q&A sessions are open to members of the science community to observe.

The panel will be reviewing two proposals over two days period.

Anyone who wishes to attend should contact Roy Stephen ( who will organise necessary arrangements to admit them at the meeting venue.

The proposals being reviewed, and time for public observations are as follows.

DiRAC-3 Operations 2023-26
Wednesday 27 April 2022, from 1130 hrs to 1300 hrs

The DiRAC High Performance Computing (HPC) facility provides cutting-edge computing services for the STFC theory communities in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and nuclear physics. Our complementary programmes of HPC skills training and innovation activities provide further support to the STFC theory research programme, as well as delivering significant benefits to wider society and the economy.

Physicists across the astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear and particle physics communities are focussed on understanding how the Universe works at a very fundamental level. The distance scales with which they work vary by more than 40 orders of magnitude from the smallest distances probed by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, deep within the atomic nucleus, to the largest scale galaxy clusters observed in the Universe. The science challenges, however, are linked through questions such as: How did the Universe begin and how is it evolving? and What are the fundamental constituents and fabric of the Universe and how do they interact?

Progress requires a combination of new astronomical observations, new experimental data and new theoretical insights. Today, theoretical understanding comes increasingly from large-scale computations that allow us to confront, in detail, the implications of our theoretical models with data from observations or experiments, or to interrogate the data to extract information that has impact on our theories. Increasingly, theoretical calculations use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to enhance their physical realism, improve their computational efficiency, or both. These computations require the performance of the fastest computers available and push the boundaries of technology in this sector. They also provide an excellent environment for training students in state-of-the-art techniques for code optimisation, data mining and visualisation; all valuable skills for their future careers.

The DiRAC HPC facility has been operating since 2009, providing computing resources for theoretical research in all areas of particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and nuclear physics supported by STFC. It is a highly productive facility, supporting the STFC theory community in publishing over 270 papers annually in international, peer-reviewed journals.
In 2020, DiRAC received a £20m capital investment from the UKRI World Class Laboratories fund, allowing the deployment of DiRAC-3 Phase 1, the first major uplift in our computational resources since DiRAC-2 in 2012 and providing a vital boost to the STFC theory programme for 2022/23.

The main purpose of the funding requested in this proposal is to support the continued operation of the DiRAC HPC facility for the period 2023-2026, including staff and power costs. These resources will enable DiRAC to continue sustainably as an internationally competitive computing facility for the STFC theory community, to train the next generation of leading computational scientists and to play a lead role in the UKRI Digital Research Infrastructure over the next decade.

Upgrade of the ATLAS detector at the LHC (2023-26)
Thursday, 28 April 2022 from 1200 hrs to 1330 hrs

Particle physics is a research-driven area concerned with establishing what are the most elementary particles in the Universe and how they interact with one another via fundamental forces. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland) is an experimental facility at the forefront of particle physics research today. The discovery, in 2012, of the Higgs particle at the LHC was one of the major advances in science in recent decades.
The LHC is used to produce proton-proton collisions at very high energy, which are recorded by very large cutting-edge particle detectors. The ATLAS detector is one such detector system at the LHC. The UK has a long-standing track record of involvement in the ATLAS project, since its inception, covering the design and construction of the original detector, as well as the exploitation of the data collected to progress our fundamental understanding of elementary particles and interactions. The ATLAS experiment exploits a broad physics programme ranging from searches for new particles at the highest mass scales to making precision measurements to characterise, and establish the parameters of, the Standard Model (the theoretical model of particle physics), and potentially discovering deviations from its predictions.

The science case is driven by the aims of elucidating and characterising the nature of the Higgs sector and of electroweak symmetry breaking at the TeV scale, and extending searches for new phenomena – or characterising them if already discovered – to higher mass scales and rarer processes, complemented by improved precision in a range of measurements. To achieve these science goals, a programme of luminosity upgrades is planned which will maintain the LHC at the high energy frontier of particle physics into the 2040s, delivering a dataset more than 10 times larger than that which the LHC is expected to produce until the end of its current phase of operation, in 2025.

The main objective of this proposal is to complete major ongoing upgrades of the ATLAS detector. More specifically, the funding being sought is for the UK’s contributions to so-called “Phase-II” upgrades of ATLAS, to be delivered by a consortium of 15 institutions. The detector, trigger and data acquisition upgrades are essential to be able to collect and fully exploit the much-increased data rate that the LHC will deliver to ATLAS during its High-Luminosity phase (HL-LHC), from 2029 onwards.
In addition to the required resources to complete the Construction of the Phase-II upgrades, this proposal also includes a request of resource for the subsequent Integration & Commissioning of the upgraded systems at CERN. The necessary programme of work (for Construction, Integration and Commissioning) extends for six years, starting in April 2023, and is detailed in the present proposal. The request for resources presented here is, however, only for the first three years of the programme, with the funding to completion to be sought at a subsequent time.

The UK responsibilities and deliverables for the ATLAS detector Phase-II Upgrades are in the following systems: the new all-silicon Inner Tracker, the hardware-based calorimeter trigger, the Event Filter software trigger system, the Data Acquisition system and the development of the experiment’s Computing and Software.

Results arising from the ATLAS experiment will be published in scientific journals, at national and international conferences and, through other publications and events, communicated to the wider public, including schools. The scientific results will benefit the world-wide community of researchers in both experimental and theoretical particle physics. Other academic beneficiaries include researchers in other disciplines using particle accelerators, detectors, advanced electronics, software and computing.