UNH Research Scientist Receives Grant to Study Never-Before-Seen State of Matter

UNH Research Scientist Receives Grant to Study Never-Before-Seen State of Matter

Feb 23, 2012

Sarah Phillips, a research scientist in the UNH department of physics, has received the 2012 JSA Postdoctoral Research Grant at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia.

Phillips was selected for the grant by the Users Group Board of Directors, the governing body of the group that represents scientists who use Jefferson Lab facilities to conduct nuclear physics research.

In making the award, the board judged each applicant on his or her record of accomplishment in physics, proposed use of the research grant, and the likelihood of further accomplishments in the Jefferson Lab research fields.  Sebastian Kuhn, board chairman, said that Phillips' proposal stood out because "it appeared to be literally a 'one-person project' that pushes a completely new experimental initiative. The board also noted Sarah's outreach efforts and her role in inspiring younger students."

Phillips will use the $10,000 grant to build a piece of equipment for an experiment to see a predicted, but never-before-seen state of matter called true muonium. True muonium can be thought of as a rare atom made out of two particles that are similar to electrons, called muons.  Muons are produced high above Earth when cosmic rays strike the atmosphere. Two types of muons, a muon and an antimuon, combine to form true muonium. 

Phillips hopes to add the search for true muonium to an existing experiment that will slam energetic electrons from Jefferson Lab's CEBAF accelerator into a target made of tungsten to produce heavy photons, which are particles that may interact with dark matter. According to theoretical calculations, this experiment is also likely to produce true muonium.

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