Prof. Dr. Willem de Boer, 1948 – 2020

Wim de Boer
Prof. Dr. Wim de Boer

It is with great sadness that we have to inform you about the unexpected passing of our dear colleague and friend Prof. Dr. Willem (“Wim”) de Boer on October 13, 2020, at the age of 72.

Please read here our obituary.

The name tells the story


The idea is more than 15 years old, but now it is approved, official and already implemented in all committees: The Institute for Nuclear Physics (IKP) has changed its name to Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP). Thus, the IAP now also carries the main direction of research of the largest institute in KCETA in its name.

The Institute for Astroparticle Physics (IAP) investigates fundamental mysteries of nature at the interface of cosmology, astrophysics and elementary particle physics. In collaboration with international research institutions, the IAP conducts basic research in the fields of particle and astroparticle physics. In the Topic Matter and Radiation from the Universe in the Helmholtz program Matter and the Universe, the IAP is dedicated to experimental and theoretical astroparticle physics, especially in the measurement of the neutrino mass with KATRIN and the Tritium Laboratory Karlsruhe (TLK), the search for dark matter with XENONnT and the future project DARWIN, and the exploration of the high-energy universe with the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.

Change at the top of KCETA

Prof. Dr. Anke-Susanne Müller (l.) und Prof. Dr. Margarete Mühlleitner
Prof. Dr. Anke-Susanne Müller (l.) and Prof. Dr. Margarete Mühlleitner

At its meeting on 23 September 2020, the KCETA steering committee unanimously elected new spokespersons. As of October 1, Prof. Dr. Anke-Susanne Müller (IBPT) will be the spokesperson of KCETA and thus succeeds Prof. Dr. Marc Weber, who will be head of Division V in the future. Prof. Dr. Margarete Mühlleitner (ITP) will be deputy spokesperson of KCETA and thus succeeds Prof. Dr. Dieter Zeppenfeld.

Johannes Blümer is in well-deserved retirement


Prof. Dr. Johannes Blümer, who has been KIT Head of Division V – Physics and Mathematics for the past five years, has taken his well-deserved retirement at the end of September 2020. As professor at the ETP and head of the IKP (today IAP), Blümer was not only scientific director of KCETA and also KSETA for many years, but was significantly involved in the initiation and establishment of both the KCETA center and the KSETA graduate school.

Due to the corona desease we met for the farewell in a small circle consisting of the current scientific directors of the center and the school, to thank Mr. Blümer for his activities, to exchange some interesting and remarkable anecdotes from the foundation times of KIT, KCETA and KSETA and to hand over a small present in form of a laser printed KCETA glass object.

Mr. Blümer will stay with KIT as a Distinguished Senior Fellow and will certainly keep an eye on the fate and further development of KCETA and KSETA.

September 2020 – Young Scientist Award for Dr. Go Mishima

Dr. Go Mishima

Dr. Go Mishima, research associate at the IAP, has received the "Particle Physics Medal: Young Scientist Award in Theoretical Particle Physics". This prize is awarded by the particle physics division of the Physical Society of Japan. It honors Dr. Mishima's achievements in connection to a new technique which he developed for the calculation of Feynman integrals with several mass scales. The results are published in the paper "High-Energy Expansion of Two-Loop Massive Four-Point Diagrams," JHEP 1902 (2019) 080.

Webseite of the award ceremony

August 2020 – CORSIKA publication is cited more than 1000 times

August 2020 - CORSIKA-Publikation wird mehr als 1000 Mal zitiert
The authors Prof. Dr. Gerd Schatz and Dr. Dieter Heck

Great achievement for the CORSIKA-Team (COsmic Ray SImulation at KArlsruhe):

Until August 2020 the report FZKA 6019 (1998), which describes the CORSIKA simulation program, was cited more than 1000 times in scientific publications. The Harvard Citation Index was used as a basis for the census.

This event was celebrated with a small drink on September 15th in the presence of two of the five authors at Campus North in compliance with COVID19 rules.

August 2020 – Last of 660 Auger Prime SSD Detectors completed at KIT

August 2020 – Letzter von 660 Auger-Prime-SSD-Detektoren am KIT fertiggestellt

For more than two years AugerPrime SSD detectors were built at IKP after intensive development. Just recently, the last of the 660 units has been completed at KIT and the final shipments to Argentina are in preparation.

This outstanding achievement is especially due to the untiring commitment of our technicians Günter, Heike, Heiko, Michael and Mo, for which we would like to express our sincere thanks.

This milestone was celebrated on August 28th at Campus North in a relaxed atmosphere and with the appropriate COVID19 distance.

June 2020 – Particle detector for SKA-Low calibrated at IKP


The recent tests were performed at KCETA Institute IKP, which has the facilities and expertise to more precisely measure the performance of the final design. KIT also provided the scintillator material, used in an earlier cosmic-ray experiment called KASCADE.

See here an article published recently in "CONTACT", the magazine of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation (page 4).

June 19, 2020 – CMS collaboration submits thousandth publication


On June 19, 2020, the CMS Collaboration reached a historic milestone: the thousandth scientific publication was submitted to a journal. Never before in the history of particle physics has an experiment achieved so many publications. KIT physicists were significantly involved in about 80 of these publications.

Only publications of the entire CMS collaboration in peer-reviewed journals are counted; in addition, there are special technical publications, some of which are published only by the group that built and operates the CMS track detector, and conference proceedings.

The first publication of the CMS Collaboration in 2008 was titled "The CMS experiment at the CERN LHC" and describes the construction of the detector. Since then, about 100 publications have been published every year. The most famous CMS publication deals with the discovery of the Higgs boson. It was published in 2012 and has been cited more than 10000 times in other publications. For almost 25 years, KIT, formerly the Universität Karlsruhe (TH), under the direction of Prof. Müller (Institute for Experimental Particle Physics) together with colleagues Husemann, Quast, and Weber and their working groups have been involved in the construction, operation, and analysis of the CMS experiment. "We expect to double the number of publications in the next ten years and gain deep insights into the nature of the smallest particles," the researchers promise.

A chronological list of all publications of the CMS collaboration can be found here.
All publications with collision data are graphically listed here sorted by topic as a function of the time of submission.

June 17, 2020 – Surprising Signal in the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment

Das Herzstück von XENON1T
The XENON1T detector. Visible is the bottom array of photomultiplier tubes, and the copper structure that creates the electric drift field.
Blick ins Innere des mit reflektierender Folie ausgekleideten Wassertanks mit dem XENON1T-Detektor. Empfindliche Sensoren identifizieren von kosmischer Strahlung im Wasser erzeugte Lichtsignale. © XENON Collaboration
View into the water tank, lined with reflecting foil, and the XENON1T detector. Sensitive sensors identify light signals induced in the water by cosmic radiation.

Scientists from the international XENON collaboration announced today that data from their XENON1T, the world's most sensitive dark matter experiment, show a surprising excess of events. The scientists do not claim to have found dark matter. Instead, they say to have observed an unexpected rate of events, the source of which is not yet fully understood. The signature of the excess is similar to what might result from a tiny residual amount of tritium (super heavy hydrogen), but could also be a sign of something more exciting: the existence of a new particle known as the solar axion or the indication of previously unknown properties of neutrinos... read more in the press release

The KIT team has recently joined the XENON collaboration and participates in the work on XENONnT, as well as in the preparation of the future planned DARWIN observatory.
Prof. Kathrin Valerius, KCETA scientist at the Institute of Nuclear Physics confirms: "The XENON group of the KIT is also very pleased about the impressive sensitivity achieved with XENON1T. It lays the foundation for the even more sensitive XENONnT detector which is currently under construction"

Original publication:
Observation of Excess Electronic Recoil Events in XENON1T, XENON Collaboration

The XENON Experiment


June 14, 2020 – Belle II: World record in the accelerator ring

Der Belle II-Detektor
The Belle II detector

Tailwind for the search for rare particle decays and exotic phenomena at the Belle II experiment in the KEK laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan: The "SuperKEKB" accelerator ring has achieved the highest luminosity ever measured. The electron-positron accelerator thus beats not only its predecessor KEKB, but also the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. This has now been announced by the Japanese research centre KEK, the operator of the accelerator.

Read all details here (German only)

June 2020 – CMS Detector Award for Dr. Stefan Maier

Dr. Stefan Maier

Dr. Stefan Maier, research associate at ETP, has been one of two scientists to receive the "Detector Award" of the CMS Tracker for the year 2019, for his "[...] outstanding contributions to the upgrade of the Outer Tracker, including development of procedures and systems in 2S module assembly and qualification and the development of a high-rate test stand for the module readout chain." Dr. Maier has built several prototypes of the newly developed dual-layer silicon strip detectors for the CMS Tracker renewal program and has optimized the procedures and tools for this. He has also developed a setup in which LEDs are used to feed electrical pulses at highest rates into the readout electronics. This allows high track densities to be simulated and the modules to be tested under realistic trigger rates. Dr. Maier carried out the work, which was so excellent, as part of his doctorate, which was funded by the KSETA graduate school. "We are very happy with Stefan about this award for his outstanding work at ETP", says project leader and PhD supervisor Prof. Ulrich Husemann.

While the award had already been announced in February, the festive presentation of the award plaque was to take place during the CMS week in April. However, due to the protection rules in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic, the CMS week had to take place online, so that the plaque is now waiting for Dr. Maier at CERN.

June 5, 2020 – CERN Courier: Funky physics at KIT

The FUNK Experiment Tobias Schwerdt / The FUNK Collaboration
The FUNK Experiment

A new experiment at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) called FUNK – Finding U(1)s of a Novel Kind – has reported its first results in the search for ultralight dark matter. Using a large spherical mirror as an electromagnetic dark-matter antenna, the FUNK team has set an improved limit on the existence of hidden photons as candidates for dark matter with masses in the eV range.

It is the doctoral thesis of KSETA member Arnaud Andrianavalomahefa and partly also the work of Christoph Schäfer. KCETA scientist Dr. Darko Veberic provided strong support and supervision... Read more in the CERN Courier

See paper

The FUNK Experiment

May 4, 2020 – "Physik in unserer Zeit" writes about KATRIN


After more than 60 years of research on neutrinos, their masses are still unknown. The Karlsruhe tritium neutrino experiment KATRIN is expected to improve the current measurement accuracy by a factor of ten. Last autumn, the facility delivered its first preliminary results and thus already narrowed down the neutrino mass by a factor of two more than before.

The German language physics magazine "Physik in unserer Zeit" in its current issue (Vol. 51/No. 3) dedicated its  Cover story to KATRIN, written by Prof. Guido Drexlin (KIT/KCETA), Prof. Christian Weinheimer (University of Münster) and Prof. Kathrin Valerius (KIT/KCETA).

April 14, 2020 – Searching for the Z‘-Boson

KCETA scientists are involved in accelerator experiment Belle II, which has now published first results
Das Teilchenbeschleuniger-Experiment Belle II ist auf der Suche nach den Ursprüngen des Universums. (Foto: Felix Metzner, KIT)
The particle accelerator experiment Belle II is searching for the origins of the Universe. (Photo: Felix Metzner, KIT)

The Belle II experiment has been in operation for about a year at the Japanese Research Centre for Particle Physics KEK in Tsukuba, about 50 kilometres north of Tokyo. Here, an international team of researchers with the participation of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is searching for exotic particles that will advance our understanding of dark matter in the universe. For one of these particles, the so-called Z' boson, the mass and strength of its interaction have now been narrowed down with previously unattainable precision. The results have just been published in the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Press Information of KIT

Research Fellowship for Go Mishima

Dr. Go Mishima

Dr. Go Mishima, postdoc at IKP, has won a "Research Fellowship for Young Scientists"

of the Japanese science foundation JSPS. It permits him to do three years of research at a university of his choice. He will stay for half a year at KIT and will then move to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

November 29, 2019 – KATRIN on the Cover of the Physical Review Letters

KATRIN auf Cover Phys. Rev. Lett. Phys. Rev. Lett.
Cover of Physical Review Letters 123/22

On November 25, 2006, the main spectrometer of the KATRIN experiment was transported in a spectacular action through Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen to Campus North of KIT.

Exactly thirteen years later, the collaboration published its first results of the neutrinomass measurements. That's worth a place on the cover of the Physics Review Letters!


November 2019 – Kathrin Valerius among the "Young Elite – top 40 under 40"

Kathrin Valerius unter den Top 40 unter 40 - Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft Ralph Engel / KIT
Dr. Kathrin Valerius

KCETA scientist Dr. Kathrin Valerius was chosen by the business journal CAPITAL as one of Germany’s “Young Elite - top 40 under 40” in the category science and society. Each year the honors go to the top 40 under 40 from economy, politics, science, and society, who have the potential to influence and shape the future of Germany.

On November 21st, they came together at the “Young Elite Summit” in Berlin to exchange ideas beyond their usual sphere of action and set new impulses for society.

Press Information of KIT
Read the CAPITAL articleExternal Link

Juli 5, 2019 – Nobel Laureate Shipping 2019

KCETA scientist Dr. Magnus Schlösser was invited by the BW Foundation to participate in the traditional Lindau Nobel Laureate Conference, where young scientists have the opportunity to exchange ideas with Nobel Laureates.
2019-07_Nobelpreisfahrt_Schloesser.jpg Staatsministerium Baden-Württemberg
Dr. Magnus Schlösser and Ulrich Steinbach, Ministerial Director and Head of Office in the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg.

A total of 18 Nobel Prize winners and around 600 young international scientists from 80 countries took part in the trip to the island of Mainau under the motto "Your first step to Stockholm: Baden-Württemberg". On board the "MS Sonnenkönigin", Baden-Württemberg universities and research centres presented current work and results on this year's main topic of physics with a special focus on cosmology, laser physics and gravitational waves.
Dr. Magnus Schlösser presented the KATRIN experiment at KIT. His stand was also visited by Ulrich Steinbach, Ministerial Director and Head of Office in the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg.

Report of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg

July 16, 2019 – IceCube becomes Antarctic Neutrino Laboratory

Observatory at the South Pole to be extended with German participation
This side - by - side comparison of a  simulated muon neutrino event  shows how the Upgrade will be able to detect events of lower  energies than the current  detector.
This side - by - side comparison of a simulated muon neutrino event shows how the Upgrade will be able to detect events of lower energies than the current detector. (© IceCube Collaboration)

With the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, which is part of the American Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, convincing evidence of a first source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos was found in 2017. Now the observatory is being upgraded into an international neutrino laboratory with German participation. The IceCube detector will be extended to lower energies in order to measure the properties of neutrinos with unprecedented accuracy. A working group of KCETA is also involved in the upgrade of IceCube.

Press information of KIT


July 2019 – The two most massive quarks put the spotlight on the Higgs boson

New measurement of the Higgs boson at the CMS experiment with leading participation of our group in KIT/KCETA: When Higgs bosons, top quarks and bottom quarks are studied together, our knowledge increases more than the sum of each part
Edit RedDot Bildunterschrift A collision where it is likely that a top quark-antiquark pair was produced together with two bottom quarks (© CMS Collaboration)
A collision where it is likely that a top quark-antiquark pair was produced together with two bottom quarks (© CMS Collaboration)

The two heaviest known elementary particles, the top (t) quark and the Higgs (H) boson, are deeply connected. They provide an essential probe of the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics, our best attempt so far at describing the fundamental particles and their interaction, and of hypothetical new physics beyond the SM. In the SM, the strength of the interaction between the Higgs boson and matter particles (quarks and leptons) is proportional to their mass. Since the top quark is the heaviest of all particles, the interaction between the Higgs boson and top quarks is also the strongest. As a result of that top-Higgs interaction, Higgs bosons can be produced in association with top quark pairs (this is called the ttH process and was first confirmed in 2018). Measuring the rate at which this rare process happens in the collisions between protons at the LHC, i.e. the probability that a given collision results in the simultaneous production of a top quark pair and a Higgs boson, is the most direct way to study the top-Higgs interaction. In turn, this tells us a lot about the nature of the Higgs boson and helps us answer questions such as: is the Higgs boson actually elementary? Are there other kinds of Higgs bosons out there? Is the universe stable?

Read more

April 18, 2019 – nature: Radio telescope LOFAR looks deep into lightning

Lightning is a phenomenon not yet understood - Radio telescope LOFAR measures previously unknown structures and discharge processes - research at KCETA has laid the technological foundations for this
LOFAR-lightning_Olaf-Scholten_1200px.jpg Olaf Scholten
Lightning strike over the LOFAR detector in the Netherlands. (Illustration: Danielle Futselaar, www.artsource.nl)

What exactly happens when lightning strikes occur is still unclear. Using high-resolution data from the LOFAR radio telescope, an international team of researchers has now discovered needle-shaped structures that could bring light into the discharge processes. Important foundations for the measurement of flashes with the world's largest antenna array were laid at the KIT. What lies behind the previously unknown needles has now been published in the journal "nature".

When ice crystals collide in a thunderstorm cloud, they charge electrically. Winds can separate the crystals, so that one part of the cloud is positively charged, the other negatively. If the resulting electric field becomes too large, a violent discharge occurs, which we perceive as lightning and thunder. The discharge begins with a small volume of air in which electrons separate from the air molecules. This ionized air, also called plasma, is electrically conductive. The plasma spreads out as branched channels until it hits the earth and the electrical voltage of the clouds discharges as lightning. The exact processes in these channels up to the recent discovery of the "lightning needles" are revealed by high-resolution data derived from radio signals of lightning, measured with the Dutch radio telescope LOFAR (Low Frequency Array), in which the KIT participates.

"Thanks to the high spatial and temporal resolution of LOFAR, we can investigate the formation of flashes in a completely new order of magnitude, right down to the primary processes," explains Dr. Brian Hare from the University of Groningen and first author of the publication in the journal "Nature". LOFAR consists of thousands of antennas spread across Europe - an array primarily developed for astronomical observations, but now also used to measure cosmic rays. The signals triggered by the cosmic particles in the atmosphere are buffered at the individual antennas and then read out for various analyses. "This technology, which is being advanced at KIT, is now also being used to measure and store radio signals emitted by lightning," explains KCETA-scientist Dr. Tim Huege from the Institute of Nuclear Physics at KIT and a member of the "LOFAR Cosmic Ray Key Science Project".

3-D animations of lightning development in radio light
Credits: Stijn Buitink (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Brian Hare (University of Groningen)
Animation 1
Slow motion of a developing lightning, which in reality lasts 0.2 seconds and spans about 5 kilometres in all directions. The yellow dots show current radio signals, the white dots the past ones for illustration.
Animation 2
Close-up of a plasma channel that in reality lasts 0.1 seconds and spans 400 meters. One of the newly discovered needle-shaped structures is marked in red.

Original publication:
Brian Hare, Olaf Scholten et al. Needle-like structures discovered on positively charged lightning branches. Nature, 18 April 2019, https://www.nature.com, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1086-6.

A small selection of the large number of publications:
Science Magazine, Spiegel online, n-tv, KIT-Campus-Report

Press information of KIT

March 2019 – Installation of the first antenna for the AugerPrime Radio Upgrade

PhD students with the first antenna for the AugerPrime radio upgrade.

Young scientists cheer after installing the first antenna for the AugerPrime radio upgrade!
Also on site: KSETA PhD student and member of the Helmholtz International Research School (HIRSAP) Felix Schlüter (second from left).

The radio upgrade, which is part of the AugerPrime upgrade, is a very important part of the future research of the Pierre Auger Observatory by adding array-based composition sensitivity for large zenith angles, for which the scintillator upgrade is not effective. Having good composition-sensitive information up to very large zenith angles is crucial for composition-improved anisotropy studies and adds to the overall aperture of the observatory.

January 2019 – KASCADE goes Outback

A deployment crew sets up the particle detector at the remote site of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope.
A deployment crew sets up the particle detector at the remote site of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope.

A trial detector for studying cosmic rays has been set up alongside the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. This 'proof of concept' detector is the first step in developing a set of detectors for the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array (SKA1-low) telescope, which is to be built at the MRO. In the longer term, these kinds of detectors will be used to trigger the MWA to capture the radio pulse associated with an incoming cosmic ray, a synergy of radio astronomy with astroparticle physics. The used particle detector is based on a donation from the dismantled cosmic ray experiment KASCADE at KIT.

Read more on the websites of
The University of Manchester
Curtin University
Australia Telescope National Facility