Research and education of the KIT Center Elementary Particle and Astroparticle Physics (KCETA) are funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg, the Helmholtz Association, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Association (DFG) and the European Union (EU). KCETA’s activities are in the following fields of research:
The Pierre Auger-Observatory on an area of 3000 square kilometres in the Argentine Pampa consists of more than 1600 autonomous tanks: In highly pure water, energetic particles produce light flashes. In addition, four telescope stations at the edge of the detector field observe the light tracks of cosmic particle showers. See also the experiment KASCADE-GRANDE which is still running on KIT’s northern campus.
In the EDELWEISS experiment more than 30 germanium detectors of 320 g each are cooled down to extremely low temperatures (20 millikelvin). If a WIMP collides with a germanium nucleus, energy is deposited: The temperature of the crystal is increased slightly and the detector material surrounding the collision is ionized. Both signals are measured and processed.
Quantum Field Theory
The fundamental building-blocks of matter, elementary particles, are described by the so-called standard model: It provides information about their properties and the forces acting between them from smallest to astronomical distances.
Experimental Collider Physics
Theoretical Collider Physics
Information about the forces acting between elementary particles is obtained by experiments, in which particles are scattered at very high energies. Highest energies and, hence, smallest distances are reached at modern colliders, such as the LHC at Geneva. Theoretical collider physics makes predictions for these experiments and helps interpreting the data.
Basic components of matter are quarks (that make up protons and neutrons) and leptons (electrons and neutrinos). Six different types, called flavours, of both classes exist. These flavours are grouped into three generations of two particles each. Normal matter consists of particles of the first, lightest generation only. Particles of the two other generations have much higher masses. They are unstable and decay into light particles within shortest time.
The heaviest quark (“Top”) was detected by the CDF detector at Fermilab.
Neutrinos are the most abundant massive particles in the universe. Each cubic centimeter contains 336 neutrinos. Their investigation touches fundamental questions of particle physics and cosmology. As cosmic architects, they are involved in the evolution of visible structures of the universe.
For some years now, it has been known that neutrinos have a rest mass. The Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment KATRIN will be the first worldwide to measure directly the mass of neutrinos
Research in the field of particle and astroparticle physics is no longer feasible without the use of high-performance computers. Optimum use of computer resources, however, requires the implementation of effective algorithms in specialized computer programs. On various levels, KIT develops software that is used to solve physical problems in particle and astroparticle physics.
Already at the startup of the largest particle accelerator of the world, the LHC at CERN, Geneva, scientists of KCETA are working on the development of novel detectors for the next accelerator generation. It is aimed at increasing the resistance of the detector against radiation damage and at increasing the solid angle acceptance by using new cooling techniques. For the KATRIN experiment unprecedented high vacuum systems and cryogenic facilities are designed and brought into operation
Detection of radio signals from air showers (LOPES) opens up new promising options in the investigation of cosmic radiation. The method is optimized in prototype experiments.
The scientific topics are continuously developed. The driving forces in this dynamical process are the scientific curiosity as well as the program cycles of the funding programs mentioned above. Presently, we discuss as possible new activities the multi-messenger astroparticle physics with cosmic rays, the extended and intensified search for Dark Matter in direct collision experiments and at accelerators, the constitution of the theoretical astroparticle physics , the close interconnection of theoretical and experimental studies by the evaluation of LHC data and the application of GRID computing.