Research activities

The particle Physics group plans, builts, operates and analyses data of various experiments, space-borne and ground-based. These experiments aim at a deeper undestanding of fundamental interactions, measuring their effects on the galactic scale (AMS-02 experiment) or directly observing them (ALTAS experiment). Some of them are also devoted to Earth observation from space (Limadou-HEPD experiment).

AMS-02 experiment

AMS could be described as a High Energy Physics experiment carried out in a special laboratory: the International Space Station. It is a very complex apparatus, based on a high-precision magnetic spectrometer, to measure cosmic rays up to TeV energies. It was founded in 90s by a group of researchers including Nobel laureate Prof. S. Ting and Prof. R. Battiston – then at the University of Perugia. The preliminary version of the experiment, AMS-01, flew on the Space Shuttle in 1994.
Nowadays AMS-02 is a collaboration of 600 physicists, which opened the high-precision cosmic ray era. Among the most important results it achieved:

  • measurement of the positron flux above 10 GeV, showing a strong disagreement with theoretical expectations and still unexplained;
  • measurement of the antiporoton flux up to nearly 1 TeV, reporting a tension with theoretical expectations;
  • measurement of cosmic ray fluxes up to 1 TeV/nucleon, with unprecedented precision, which allowed to verify theoretical models of production, acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays.

The Trento-TIFPA group is responsible for the measurement of the deuterium flux, widely applying sophisticated techniques of multivariate analysis. 
paolo.zuccon [at]

ATLAS experiment

It is a gigantic experimental apparatus, deployed 100 m underground at Meyrin, Switzerland, where the CERN Large Hadron Collider beams cross. As high as an 8 floors building and twice as long, ATLAS weighs 7000 tons and it is operated by more than 3000 scientists. Together with its “little cousin” CMS, ATLAS hit the headlines in 2012, when it announced to the world the discovery of the Higgs boson, a key element to verify the namesake mechanism, for which fundamental particles get mass. Besides the Higgs boson, ATLAS is focused on a number of open issues in High Energy Physics, for instance:

  • study of parton-parton processes foreseen by the Standard Model, to characterize TeV dynamics and look for unexpected effects;
  • search for New Physics, beyond the Standard Model, be it Supersymmetry or something else predicted by some extension of the electroweak lagrangian;
  • study of the top quark, the heaviest one, for which coupling to New Physics are often recognized to be the most probable.

Since 2007 the Department of Industrial Engineering of Trento University coordinated the ATLAS working group for developing the innovative 3D pixel sensor technology, now mounted on the ATLAS Insertable B-layer and perfectly working. Since 2016 the Trento-TIFPA group contributes also to monitor the pixel (and IBL) operation . It is also involved in R&D for the 3D second generation sensors (for the High Luminosity LHC, ATLAS phase 2).
On the analysis side, the Trento-TIFPA group contributes to the search for New Physics in diboson decays (2HDM, HVT and RD-graviton models), applying AI-based techniques (BDTs, machine learing, etc…).
roberto.iuppa [at]

LIMADOU-HEPD experiment

The Limadou experiment was proposed to the international scientific community by Prof. R. Battiston in 2004 and it is now part of the CSES mission (Chinese Seismo-Electromagnetic  Satellite), promoted by CEA (Chinease Earthquake Administration). This satellite is devoted to electromagnetic wave monitoring and particle-plasma perturbation studies in the high atmosphere, the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. It is a joint CNSA-ASI initiative, in which INFN participates with the HEPD (High Energy Particle Detector), measuring electron and proton fluxes up to about 100 MeV. Observing fast time-variations of these fluxes is of great importance when looking for correlations with litosphere events, like seismic series or very intense human activities. Limadou will also be able to study the solar activity, which also determines low energy particle flux variations.
The Trento-TIFPA group is one of the founding teams of the Limadou experiment. It made the first feasibility study and now is responsible for the simulation of the detector response and the event reconstruction. It is also in charge to develop the Monte Crlo simulation, to calibrate the HEPD and obtain the best precision achievable.
roberto.iuppa [at], wj.burger [at]

Particle detectors research and development

The Trento-TIFPA group is expert on silicon-based particle detectors. It developed the readout system of the double-sided microstrip detector mounted on Limadou and now it is responsible for its operation.
Together with the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Bruno Kessler Foundation, the Trento-TIFPA group develops 3D pixel sensors for the upgrade of the ATLAS barrel inner tracker system (High Luminosity LHC, fase 2 di LHC). They are high precision tracking detectors, which will be operated in the harshest environment ever seen.
The group is also strongly committed to developing MAPS technologies (Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors) for high precision tracking in space.
roberto.iuppa [at] and paolo.zuccon [at]

Development of HTS magnets

Together with CERN the Trento-TIFPA group is developing High Temperature Superconduicting (HTS) magnets for space applications. They are made of MgB2 or YBCO and other rare-earth-based materials. This study aims at producing a prototype coil featuring high fields (3-10 T) when operated at 10-20 K.
The results of this program will be important to assess the usability of HTS technologies for scientific purposes (magnetic spectrometers for experiments like AMS) and technological ones (cosmic ray active shielding for long-term manned missions).
roberto.iuppa [at]

Laser technologies for space applications

Together with the Trento IdEA group, very expert on laser ablation, we study how to exploit this technique to propose innovative solutions for the space-debris removal problem and for small-size satellite launch.
wj.burger [at], roberto.iuppa [at]

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