German particle physics gets funding boost

18 July 2007

Physicists in Germany will soon be able to strengthen their role in the international quest to understand the fundamental laws of nature. On 15 May, the Senate of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres announced that it will grant €25 m in funding over the next five years to support the Helmholtz Alliance, Physics at the Terascale, in a proposal led by the DESY research centre. In this alliance, DESY – together with Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, 17 universities and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich – will bring together existing competencies in Germany in the study of elementary particles and forces.

At the same time, the Helmholtz Alliance will provide the basis to drive technological advancement in a much more focused way. This new initiative comes at a time when German particle physicists are making large contributions to international collaborations at particle accelerators, such as the LHC at CERN, and a future International Linear Collider.

Alliance funds will finance more than 50 new positions for scientists, engineers and technicians during the initial five-year period. Junior scientists, in particular, will be given the opportunity to lead research groups with options for tenure positions. This is intended to open up attractive new perspectives for a future career in particle physics. Joint junior positions at all partner institutes, coordinated recruitment and teaching substitutes for researchers who are abroad will together provide a framework where it is possible for scientists to work away from their home institutes at large-scale international research centres without interfering with teaching provision.

The new network will enhance collaboration between universities and research institutes in data-analysis fields and the development of new technologies. Particular support will be given to the design of new IT structures, as well as detector and accelerator technologies that are of central importance for the sustainable development of particle physics in the future.

As a member of the alliance, DESY will offer its facilities for testing and development of detector and accelerator technology, and 10 Helmholtz Alliance positions will be opened at the laboratory. An analysis centre for LHC data will also be established at DESY.

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