Neeti Parashar, Assistant Professor - PhD, University of Delhi, 1995Neeti Parashar

Elementary Particle Physics

Prof. Parashar, who joined Purdue Calumet’s physics faculty in Fall 2005, is the leader of HEP group at PUC and is participating in two international projects. One experiment is being conducted at the Fermi National Acceleratory Laboratory (FNAL) in Batavia, Ill. and the other at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), based in Geneva Switzerland. Fermilab is located in Batavia, Illinois (about 60 miles from Hammond) whereas CERN is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Because of the nature of their experiments, high-energy physicists must do their research in collaboration with large laboratories like Fermilab and CERN. Both of these laboratories invite international collaboration of physicists and engineers. Prof. Parashar is committed to two experiments at these labs – namely DZERO (Fermilab) and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) at CERN. There are 750 and 3000 physicists, respectively, in each of the two collaborations from institutions the world over. PUC is one of the US member institutions of CMS Experiment at CERN and a member of DZERO at Fermilab.

The primary instrument used for this work is a particle accelerator.The world’s most powerful accelerator, a tunnel measuring 4 miles in circumference, is located at Fermilab. It is called the Tevatron. The next higher energy accelerator (LHC), 17 miles circular tunnel, is currently being built at CERN. In these accelerators protons circulate in opposite directions at the speed of light. The tunnels are populated with superconducting magnets to manipulate their behavior. When complete, in 2007, it will accelerate and smash particles called protons, with protons at nearly the speed of light. This will create conditions in a small volume that occurred a few seconds after the Big Bang. These collisions will happen at an unprecedented energy of 14 trillion electron volts.

We know that everything around us, from stars, and planets to air and water are made of matter. Matter in turn is made of atoms. Atoms are comprised of electrons orbiting around the nucleus which in turn is made of protons and neutrons. Inside protons and neutrons we find quarks. By accelerating a beam of particles to nearly the speed of light and shooting them into a material target we can break the nucleus and recreate fundamental particles. Most of these particles existed independently for a fraction of a second only in the primordial universe after the Big Bang following which all the energy transformed into matter. At CERN we can re-create the same energy conditions that existed then and observe the formation of new matter and its opposite- the antimatter. By doing this we can understand the fundamental laws of nature and unveil the ultimate mysteries that govern our universe like – why particles have mass, why is there a preponderance of matter over antimatter. CMS (built and operated by over 2000 scientists from 36 countries), is one of four detectors that will research particles produced in collisions at the LHC. This research would reveal physics beyond the Standard Model, a theory that once was believed to explain sub-atomic interactions. The physics program includes the study of electroweak symmetry breaking, investigating the properties of the top quark, a search for new heavy gauge bosons, probing quark and lepton substructure, looking for supersymmetry and exploring other new phenomena. Professor Parashar is working mostly at Fermilab with a group of 100 scientists from 15 US institutions on the design and construction of a silicon Forward Pixel Detector. This is a state of art detector, made of many millions of pixels (each about 100 microns). It will become part of the CMS detector and allow the identification of particles. She is leader of the software group whose responsibility is to model the correct geometry of this complex detector in order to assess its response to simulated particles.