Department of Science & Technology CERN Centre for High Performance Computing IThemba LABS ALICE ATLAS ISOLDE Theoretical Physics


The ATLAS detector is comprised of five large sub-detectors: the inner tracker or iTk, the LAr Calorimeter, the Tile Calorimeter, the Muon system and the Trigger and Data acquisition system. South Africa contributes to the maintenance, operations and upgrade of the iTk and Tile Calorimeters. South Africa is represented at the Institutional Boards, where decisions are made collectively with other universities and research institutions from all over the world. SA-ATLAS also contributes to a range of physics topics through data analysis.

The SA-ATLAS group’s  vision is focused on further enhancing their  capacity to train and supervise students, and to improve their ability to deliver human capacity and technology transfer to South Africa in critical areas: Electronics, Nuclear technology, Big Data and Artificial intelligence.

The training that SA  students receive through the SA-ATLAS group is of world-class standard. Students are trained in a high-tech, internationally competitive, and multi-disciplinary environment where they acquire skills, whether in the areas of software or instrumentation. This is reflected by the fact that in the past five years they have earned over 25 prizes at the conferences of the South African Institute of Physics in different streams. Those graduates that choose to join industry enjoy full employment in South Africa. This includes prestigious international and South African companies. One of the students has been awarded the prestigious ATLAS student fellowship award and another the SAINTS fellowship. Two of the academic members have been finalists of the prestigious NSTF awards four times. Four students and staff received support sufficient to allow annual periods of full-time training and participation in key technology areas of ATLAS.

In order to cope with the significant increase of the luminosity of that will be provided by the LHC the ATLAS detector will undergo major upgrade activities. Installation of deliverables will take place during the Long Shutdown 3 in the mid to late twenties, followed by integration commissioning and maintenance phases.

SA-ATLAS is involved in the upgrade of two of the sub-components of the ATLAS detector: The Inner trackers (ITk) and the Tile Calorimeter (TileCal). The corresponding Technical Design Reports have been finalised and submitted. The following are the deliverables that have been approved for SA-ATLAS:

Contributions to iTk:

  • Polymoderators for the absorption of neutrons
  • Novel Radiation fibre optic based Hard Humidity Sensing Technology
  • Commissioning of crucial readout electronics cards

Contributions to the Tile Calorimeter:

  • Low voltage power supplies for on-detector readout electronics
  • Pre-processor for the off-detector readout electronics

In the area of data analysis SA-ATLAS, contributes to the understanding of fundamental interactions and fields. The Standard Model of particle physics has enjoyed great success in explaining scattering processes at colliders. However, the Standard Model does not explain a number of phenomena in nature, such the origin of mass of neutrinos, the origin dark energy and dark mass, among others. Understanding how the Standard Model breaks down is essential to answering the question as to how to explain these phenomena. For this purpose a two prong approach is pursued: testing the Standard Model through measurements of rare processes and direct searches for new particles. The following are the groups of projects that are offered by SA-ATLAS:

  • Measurement of rare Standard Model processes in multi-lepton final states
  • Searches for hidden sectors through light gauge bosons
  • Searches for new boson with lepton and photonic final states
  • Searches for new physics, including dark matter, using unusual topologies, jet substructure and machine learning methods
  • Measurement of observables sensitive different aspects of QCD, and improvement of simulation programmes using such measurements.

Inquiries can be addressed to the following academics:
Betty Kibirige (UNIZULU),
Simon Connel (UJ),
Deepak Kar (Wits),
James Keaveney (UCT),
Mukesh Kumar (Wits),
Lerothodi Leeuw (UNISA),
Bruce Mellado (Wits),
Xifeng Ruan (Wits),
Elias Sideras-Haddad,
Sahal Yacoob (UCT),



University of Johannesburg University of Cape Town University of the Witwatersrand University of Zululand