Particle Physics PhD Positions

Applications for Particle Physics PhD projects within our group are open all-year round, however funded PhD projects normally start in October with the applications being reviewed and invitations sent out for interviews in January-March.


The STFC/UKRI funding body which provides the funding for most Particle Physics PhD studentships around the country does not require offer holders to make the final decision until April such that there will be a waiting list for candidates until April/Mai. Applications can be submitted here.

Generally, the candidates should have a good knowledge of particle physics and programming skills. Knowledge of particle astrophysics and nuclear physics is desirable for some of the projects. Travel to and extended stays at the experimental sites are expected for a number of projects (Japan, CERN/Switzerland, USA). The projects are open to home and international candidates but international students may need to secure funding to pay fees and living expenses.

It is sufficient to apply to one of the projects to be considered for all, but please state clearly your priorities and interests. Each year a number of funded places is available which are allocated according to the priorities of the group and the quality of the candidates. 

Below, short descriptions of generally available projects can be found with longer versions and links to recent projects available here.

Dark Matter Search with ADMX and the Quantum Sensors for the Hidden Sector Collaboration. 

- Prof E Daw

This Ph.D. project involves searches for hidden sector dark matter, including QCD axions and axion like particles (ALPs). Our group at Sheffield leads the 'Quantum Sensors for the Hidden Sector' collaboration, and collaborates with the Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX) collaboration in the USA. A Ph.D. in this area would involve elements of detector simulation, lab based characterisation of detectors and detector parts, instrumentation design and operation, characterisation of microwave electronics both at cryogenic temperatures (to 10mK) and at room temperature, and data analysis. 

Dark Matter Search with the LZ Experiment 

- Prof Vitaly Kudryavtsev, Prof D R Tovey

LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) is a high-sensitivity dark matter experiment currently operating in the deep underground laboratory at SURF (South Dakota, USA). LZ is sensitive to dark matter particles (WIMPs) predicted by many leading theories beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, such as supersymmetry. The particle physics and particle astrophysics (PPPA) group at the University of Sheffield has been involved in the LZ experiment since the very beginning of its design and construction with a prime responsibility of developing software for modelling and data analysis, simulations, understanding background radiation, and analysis of experimental data. The project will involve the analysis of data from the LZ experiment and may focus on various physics topics including background model and identification of possible signal. 

Neutrino Oscillation Study and Nucleon Decay Search with DUNE

- Prof Vitaly Kudryavtsev

DUNE is a large international project to design, construct and operate a multi-kilotonne scale liquid argon detector for neutrino physics, neutrino astrophysics and a search for physics phenomena beyond the Standard Model. This PhD project will focus on development of a methodology for DUNE detector calibration, in particular using atmospheric muons. It may also include development of analysis based on machine learning techniques to search for nucleon decay events and separate them from a much larger background from cosmic-ray muons and atmospheric neutrinos. Participation in the SBND (Short-Baseline Near Detector) experiment at Fermilab is possible via detector operation shifts and data analysis. 

The Japanese Long-Baseline Neutrino Programme (T2K, Super-Kamiokande and Hyper-Kamiokande).  

- Dr S Cartwright, Dr M Malek 

The particle physics and particle astrophysics (PPPA) group at the University of Sheffield has a long-standing involvement in Japan’s long-baseline neutrino programme. Sheffield PhD students working on the Japanese long-baseline programme typically work on T2K, which gives them the opportunity to analyse data from a currently operating long-baseline neutrino experiment. However there is also the option of involvement with either the Super-K or Hyper-K experiments (in addition to T2K). 

Searching for Higgs Boson Pair Production with the ATLAS Experiment at the CERN LHC.

- Dr T Vickey

It's possible that the 125 GeV Higgs boson is only one of several neutrally-charged Higgs bosons predicted by theories beyond the Standard Model. Many of these theories predict the existence of a more massive Higgs boson that is able to decay into two lighter 125 GeV Higgses.  The student will develop analysis strategies to search for the production of two neutral 125 GeV Higgs bosons at ATLAS. Searches will focus on a final state where one of the Higgs bosons decays into two tau leptons, and the second Higgs boson decays to a pair of bottom quarks. The student will participate in developing algorithms for tau lepton identification, and will also have the opportunity to assist with silicon module construction for the ATLAS tracker upgrade. 

Electroweak measurements with the ATLAS Experiment.  

- Dr K Lohwasser, Dr C Anastopoulos

A position is open for an enthusiastic PhD student to conduct research at the energy frontier at the ATLAS experiment. The main topic is to investigate further the nature of electroweak symmetry breaking and to search for new physics phenomena using Higgs and diboson measurements. The PhD project will involve heavily data analysis, statistics, advanced analytical classification methods and possibly machine learning. The PhD will prepare equally well for a career in industry and academia.

Searches for supersymmetry and dark matter particles with the ATLAS experiment.   

- Prof D Costanzo, Prof D Tovey

The student will work on the analysis of the data collected by the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider to search for new particles that are postulated by Supersymmetry. The student will be focusing on searches where particles decay into heavy-flavour quarks with a large missing transverse energy also observed. The work is done in collaboration with an international team and the student will also be expected to participate in the ATLAS experimental work. 

Silicon Sensor Particle Detectors for the Upgrade of the ATLAS Experiment at the CERN LHC. 

- Dr T Vickey, Dr K Lohwasser

A position is open for an enthusiastic PhD student to conduct research in developing silicon sensor technologies in use at the energy frontier at the ATLAS experiment. This project will focus on the construction of detector modules for the new all-silicon Inner Tracking detector (ITk), part of which is being built in the University of Sheffield Semiconductor Detector Development Facility.  The PhD project will involve practical work in the lab but also the interpretation of results and design of new experiments.

Cosmic-Ray Muons in Different Applications.

- Prof Vitaly Kudryavtsev

Cosmic-ray muons are known to be useful in applications beyond particle astrophysics. They have helped with mapping structure of volcanoes and with finding voids in various geological structures. Other possible applications include studies of geological repositories including monitoring carbon capture and tracing illicit nuclear materials. This computational PhD project offers an opportunity for a student to apply the knowledge of particle and astroparticle physics, and detector technology in areas which are linked to key issues of the contemporary world: climate change, nuclear security etc. One particular application of cosmic-ray muons to be addressed in this project is the identification of materials in cargo. 

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