Particle Physics

The overall goal of the Columbia experimental particle physics program (whose experimental facilities are based at Nevis Laboratories together with office space and high-speed computer links in the recently created "Nevis South" area on the 11th floor of Pupin) is to address many of the key open issues in our understanding of the fundamental forces and properties of matter. The purpose of high-energy particle physics is to understand the properties and states of the basic building blocks of matter.

Approximately 8 faculty members, 14 postdoctoral research scientists, and 20 graduate students, supported by a 10-member engineering and technical staff, engage in the preparation, design, and construction of high-energy particle and nuclear experiments and equipment. These experiments and equipment are transported to major national accelerator laboratories for data collection; the data resulting from these experiments are then processed and analyzed using the extensive computer systems at Nevis Laboratories. The experimental program is broad, using present and planned facilities across the globe that span energy ranges from 500 MeV to 14 TeV, using electrons, positrons, protons, anti-protons, neutrinos, and muons as the probe particles.

Researchers at Nevis Labs are also involved in developing future facilities and future detector technologies. The physics questions that are being pursued are numerous including: the search for the source of electroweak symmetry breaking in the Standard Model, the discovery and study of the top quark, the nature of neutrinos and neutrino oscillations, the structure of the proton and tests of Quantum Chromodynamics, and the source of CP violation. The list of physics results is much larger than the few topics we have mentioned since each experiment we are involved in is a rich source of new information about the structure of matter. Consult the web sites of the individual experiments for more information.

*The experimental particle physicists hold a joint seminar with the experimental nuclear physicists on Wednesdays.


The primary experimental facilities for experimental particle physics are located at Nevis Laboratories located about 20 miles north of the Columbia campus on the Hudson River in historic Irvington, NY.

The Laboratory is situated on a 40-acre estate on the Hudson River. The original 1836 estate was once owned by Col. James Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton. It was named Nevis after the island in the Caribbean where Col. Hamilton's father was born.

The grounds include: a research building with offices, library, videoconferencing, computing, lab space and machine shop, an electronics shop, the original estate mansion with a conference room and guest rooms; a carriage house where the purchasing office is located; a massive cyclotron building which currently is home to the experimental astrophysics program. In addition to the Nevis campus, the experimental particle and nuclear physics program have on-campus facilities ("Nevis South") in the recently renovated space on the 11th floor of Pupin. These facilities provide office space for students, postdocs and visitors together with high speed computer connections (wired and wireless 802.11b), printing facilities, and meeting facilities.