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Programme Matter and the Universe

International Collaborations - Topic 1

The largest physics collaborations ever formed are working in the topic Fundamental Particles and Forces:


  • The ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the CERN LHC each comprise more than 3,000 physicists from far more than 100 institutions worldwide. DESY has signficant impact on both collaborations, as is visible from the large number of management-level positions inside the collaborations.
  • The ILD and SiD Study Groups for the International Linear Collider (ILC), and also the dedicated detector-development activities CALICE and LC-TPC, are strongly represented at DESY, and currently two DESY staff members hold positions of co-spokesperson, one in ILD and the other in SiD.
  • The Belle II collaboration receives significant support from the German partner institutions including DESY, who contribute to e.g. the pixel tracker, to the mechanics and to physics analyses.

Furthermore, DESY is also a member of the following collaborations in experimental or theoretical elementary particle physics: ALPHA and ETMC (lattice gauge theory), ALPS and OLYMPUS.


It should be noted that KIT is a prominent member of CMS featuring the second-largest group of 70 people. KIT is also engaged in Belle II. These activities are however not funded from the Helmholtz programme.


International Collaborations - Topic 2

The worldwide flagship facility for future research in the topic Cosmic Matter in the Laboratory will be the Facility for Antiproton and Ion research (FAIR), which is currently under construction. The major FAIR collaborations are:


  • The CBM experiment will be one of the scientific pillars of the future Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) in Darmstadt. The goal of the CBM research program is to explore the QCD phase diagram in the region of high baryon densities using high-energy nucleus-nucleus collisions. The CBM detector is being developed by more than 400 members of 55 institutions in 15 countries.


  • The HADES collaboration currently comprises 19 institutions from 10 European countries. Among the 120 members are physicists, engineers, PhD students and undergraduates studying at Master level. The GSI group in HADES takes care of the host lab duties like coordination and management positions, provides the scientific platform for analysis activities, manages the analysis frame work as well as the access to the HPC cluster and maintains the local experiment and infrastructure. HADES is customised to detect rare electron–positron pairs but indeed measures all charged particles in a large acceptance around mid-rapidity.


  • The NUSTAR collaboration is devoted to the study of NUclear STructure, Astrophysics, and Reactions. More than 700 scientists from more than 170 participating institutes worldwide form the NUSTAR community. They all concentrate on the development and realisation of new instrumentation and methods for future experiments at the upcoming FAIR facility. The research interest of the NUSTAR collaboration is focused on the use of beams of radioactive species separated and identified by the Superconducting FRagment Separator (Super-FRS), which is the central element of all NUSTAR experiments.


  • The PANDA experiment will be another of the scientific pillars of the future Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) in Darmstadt. One goal of the PANDA experiment is investigations of antiproton annihilation reactions for spectroscopy in the charmonium region. The collaboration is formed by over 500 collaborators from 19 countries. FZJ, GSI and HIM have significant impact on the PANDA collaboration, as is visible from the large number of management-level positions inside the collaboration.


Other important collaborations include:


  • ALICE is the acronym for A Large Ion Collider Experiment. Located at the LHC, it is one of the largest experiments in the world devoted to research in the relativistic heavy ion physics. It involves an international collaboration of more than 1,200 physicists, engineers and technicians, including around 200 graduate students, from 132 physics institutes in 36 countries across the world.


  • The BESIII experiment is located at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Beijing, China at the Beijing Electron Positron Collider II (BEPCII). It is an international collaboration investigating hadron structure and spectroscopy in the charm region. Of special interest are the recently observed exotic X,Y,Z-states, which are most likely exotic states of hadronic matter.


  • JEDI is an international collaboration pursuing the search for charged particle EDM for light ions in storage rings in a staged project, which aims at the highest sensitivity (see Section 3.2.4). JEDI currently lists 97 members from 38 institutions and 11 countries and collaborates very closely with the BNLbased srEDM collaboration on a number of subjects relevant for charged particle EDM searches in storage rings. The leading institution for this project is the IKP of FZJ, together with RWTH Aachen University within JARA-FAME.


  • PAX is an international collaboration trying to establish spin-filtering in a storage ring as the method to in-situ polarize antiproton beams with the aim of a possible future upgrade of the HESR of FAIR (see Section 3.2.3). For this project IKP (FZJ) and INFN (University of Ferrara) are the major proponents. It should be noted that an ERC Advanced Grant (POLPBAR) has been obtained from the European Commission with FZJ, Ferrara and JINR (Dubna) as participating institutions.


  • The international TASCA collaboration working at GSI performs experiments on the synthesis, nuclear structure investigation, and chemical identi cation of superheavy elements. The collaboration contains more than 70 collaborators from 12 countries.


The activities in topic Cosmic Matter in the Laboratory are embedded in international collaborations including the EU Integrating Initiatives HP3 (HadronPhysics3) and ENSAR (European Nuclear Science and Applications Research). Each of these consists of over 2,000 physicists from across Europe, and coordinates the activities of these research fields by joining efforts on Transnational Access, Networking Activities, as well as Joint Research Activities.


International Collaborations - Topic 3

The activities in topic Matter and Radiation from the Universe are characterised by large, international collaborations. The most important ones include:


  • The Pierre Auger Collaboration consists of about 500 scientists of 95 institutional groups from 19 countries. KIT is a leading partner with the largest group; it has just taken responsibility as the international executive financial institution (formerly at CERN) and for support of the project management (formerly at Fermilab). Other big partners are INFN Italy, CNRS with several institutions, FNAL and the University of Chicago with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP).


  • The KASCADE-Grande Collaboration developed and operated the cosmic-ray detector of the same name on the northern campus of KIT; the group comprises about 70 people of 10 institutions in eight European countries; KIT is the host and leading group. The project is now in its analysing phase and is preparing its data for sustained open access to the public, more about the KASCADE Cosmic ray Data Centre (KCDC) here.


  • Other collaborations in the cosmic-ray field are:
    • Tunka is a German-Russian project for multi-purpose technology development around a detector array in the Tunka valley near Irkutsk, Siberia. KIT and DESY are involved by a Helmholtz-Russia Joint Research Group since 2012.
    • JEM-EUSO is a constantly growing Japanese-led consortium of currently 13 countries, 80 institutes, and more than 280 scientists. The objective is to study cosmic-ray air showers by their  fluorescence light emission using an electronic telescope onboard the International Space Station ISS.
    • The AMS-02 detector searching for cosmic antimatter is also situated on the ISS. Some essential components were built by RWTH Aachen and KIT, however outside the scope of the Helmholtz programme.


  • IceCube is a collaboration of about 200 scientists from 11 countries. DESY Zeuthen is a strategic partner of IceCube, second only to the lead institute of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. DESY is coordinating the eight German partner universities in IceCube and provides the Tier-1 data centre for IceCube and IceTop. IceTop is an extension to IceCube: an array of Cherenkov detectors on the surface, to allow for cross calibration of underground muon event and air showers as seen in IceTop, and to use IceCube as a large muon detector for studies of the mass composition of cosmic rays in the energy range from 1015 to 1018 eV.


  • CTA is the worldwide next-generation gamma ray observatory. It is a joint project of 28 countries with more than 1,100 scientists and engineers. All groups currently involved in Cherenkov astronomy are members of CTA. DESY Zeuthen is the largest individual group and is leading the design, production and assembly of the 40 medium-sized telescopes (MSTs) and the telescope and array control (ACTL). DESY is crucially involved through simulation and analysis work in the design of the array and the selection of the observatory sites. There are two Max Planck Institutes and nine German universities involved in CTA. DESY entertains active links to the MST and ACTL activities with numerous national and international partners within CTA. DESY Zeuthen will apply to host the international project office of CTA.


  • Current gamma-ray telescope projects:
    • H.E.S.S. is a collaboration of about 200 scientists from 13 countries, led by Germany, which operates the current largest Cherenkov telescope with 28 m diameter, together with four 12-m telescopes. DESY is a member of the H.E.S.S. Collaboration and a main contributor to the current hardware upgrade. The main partners are the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and the CNRS.
    • MAGIC and VERITAS are gamma-ray observatories using Cherenkov telescopes on La Palma and in Arizona, respectively. Young Investigator Groups at DESY are involved in both observatories.


  • KATRIN: The collaboration to perform the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment was officially funded in 2002. It consists of ~120 collaborators from Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, United Kingdom and the US. KIT is obviously the strongest partner as the host institute, with further German partners at the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg (MPIK), and at the universities Bonn, Mainz, Münster and Wuppertal.


  • EDELWEISS is a direct Dark Matter search experiment using cryogenic Ge bolometers with coincident readout of heat and ionisation signals. It is operated at the LSM underground laboratory in France. KIT is collaborating with groups from France, UK and Russia, making up a collaboration of about 50 scientists.


  • EURECA: As a next-generation direct DM experiment, the European Underground Rare Event Calorimeter Array is designed to use up to 1 ton of cryogenic bolometers, with a significant participation of KIT. The collaboration includes partners from Austria, France, Germany (KIT, TU München, Tübingen), Slovakia, Spain, Russia, UK, and Ukraine. A close cooperation with SuperCDMS (institutions from the US and Canada) has recently started to develop a joint phased programme.