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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Dr Oleg Brandt, new UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, touching a plasma ball.

Cavendish Laboratory researcher Oleg Brandt is one of the UK’s future science leaders to receive Government funding to help develop and commercialise their innovations.

Dr Oleg Brandt, a particle physicist at the Cavendish Laboratory working on the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been awarded a £1.5 million Future Leaders Fellowship by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

He is one of nearly 100 of the UK’s most promising science and research leaders backed with a £113 million cash boost, Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced yesterday (8 September 2021), to help realise their innovative research ideas and bring them from lab to market, providing bold solutions to tackle major global issues.

Brandt’s research at the Cavendish Laboratory focuses on the search for dark matter and other physics beyond the Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics, at colliders and beyond. Together with colleagues from the ATLAS and ANUBIS collaborations and with theorical physicists, he explores exotic signatures of dark matter involving long-lived particles and the topological substructure of jets.

 “The Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics is the deepest, most complete and accurate scientific theory and has passed decades of experimental tests,” said Brandt. “Yet, it cannot answer many fundamental questions, for instance, what is the nature of Dark Matter, which contributes 80% of the total mass in the Universe?

“My research aims to close the present gap in sensitivity to long-lived particles by instrumenting the existing service shafts of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) of CERN to search for electrically neutral massive ultra-long-lived particles that are more massive than a hydrogen atom and cannot be discovered with existing instruments.”

This Fellowship will also enable Brandt to expand the full potential of the existing ATLAS detector to search for long-lived particles on a short time scale, and to develop a full-scale demonstrator prototype for cosmic ray tomography.

“This low-cost detector technology is an ideal candidate for the scanning of buildings, bridges, and other large-scale infrastructure using muon tomography based on naturally occurring cosmic rays,” explained Brandt. “Cosmic ray tomography provides crucial advantages over other approaches that are currently available and suffer from a limited depth reach and resolution (radar), are expensive and carry significant health and safety risks (X-ray), or even prohibitive (destructive methods).”

Delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – which aims to establish the careers of the next generation of world class British scientists – the investment will enable researchers at universities and businesses to progress their studies quickly by funding essential equipment and paying for researcher wages.

Further information

The Future Leaders Fellowships scheme, which is run by UK Research and Innovation, helps universities and businesses in the UK recruit, develop and retain the world’s best researchers and innovators, regardless of their background. Each fellowship will last four to seven years.

For more information visit the UKRI website.