Research Fellows Directory
Dr David Waters
University College London
I am a particle physicist, and the goal of my work is to uncover the fundamental structure of matter and the forces that bind it together. Although we have an incredibly successful theoretical framework that describes almost all known phenomena, many important questions remain. For example, why there is an apparent excess of matter over anti-matter in the universe? Why is the electric charge of the electron equal and opposite to that of the proton?
One of my research interests is to look for exotic forms of radioactive beta-decay directly. Very occasionally, two beta decays can occur simultaneously. Rarely, this double-beta decay process may occur without the emission of the neutrinos that are produced during normal beta-decay. If detected, this would tell us something very fundamental about the nature of the neutrino – in particular it would tell us whether these mysterious particles are their own anti-particles. Ironically, low energy measurements such as these could yield insights into physics at the highest possible “Grand Unification” energy scales and may go part of the way to answering some of the fundamental questions mentioned above. We are currently embarking on the construction of the first module of the so-called “SuperNEMO” experiment and within a few years we hope to be gleaning new insights into this curious process of neutrinoless double-beta decay.
The goals of particle physics are purely scientific ones. Historically many applications have arisen from the technology we develop to do our experiments. Even more importantly, particle physics is one of the main reasons that we attract the best students to come and study physics; students that then go on to have a big impact in other areas of science, technology or industry.