Research Area B: Origin of Mass and Physics Beyond the Standard Model
The physics of the Higgs boson and electroweak symmetry breaking, together with searches for new particles predicted by extensions of the Standard Model are central themes in large-scale international experiments. PRISMA researchers have leading roles in these activities, which include also searches for weakly interacting massive particles and other candidates for dark matter. Among the fundamental open issues of elementary particle physics we are interested in the origin of electroweak symmetry breaking, the particle nature of dark matter and the question whether there are new heavy particles in nature that have not yet been observed.
Based on a close collaboration of researchers working in theoretical and experimental physics, each of these open issues is addressed in a concentrated effort, utilizing a variety of experiments in different energy regimes. Following the discovery of the Higgs boson at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the properties of this new particle are being explored in great detail, in order to gain a quantitative understanding of the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking realized in nature. The theory of electroweak interactions is tested at the quantum level by providing highly accurate measurements of electroweak precision observables, the W-boson mass, and the hadronic contribution to the fine-structure constant.
The search for dark-matter particles involves liquid-xenon direct-detection experiments, detection of neutrinos from dark-matter annihilation using the IceCube neutrino telescope, and detection of missing-energy signals at the LHC. Moreover, currently there are ongoing search efforts at the LHC for a large variety of new heavy particles to establish signatures of physics beyond the Standard Model, for instance the supersymmetric partners of the Standard Model particles, Kaluza-Klein resonances, and W’ and Z’ bosons.