U.S. Particle Accelerator School

High-Energy Physics Principles and Instrumentation course

Sponsoring University:

Colorado State University


High-Energy Physics Principles and Instrumentation


Norm Buchanan; John Harton; Walter Toki and Bob Wilson, Colorado State University

Purpose and Audience
The purpose of this course is to introduce the basics of a selection of high-energy physics experiments and associated instrumentation along with an introduction to analysis fundamentals.   The course is intended for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who seek an introductory course relevant to understanding of experimental techniques and basic statistical treatment of data in high-energy physics experiments.


Basics of electromagnetism; ability to program in some computer language and produce plots – also very useful (but not mandatory) if each student has a laptop; basics of Standard Model of particle interactions; some familiarity with basic concepts of e+e-, neutrino, dark matter experiments, and gamma ray/cosmic ray observatories – at least at conceptual  the level of an undergraduate course or Wikipedia.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

To provide the students with an introduction to particle physics with an emphasis on detectors and data analysis. Students will familiarize themselves with the physics of particle interactions with matter, and different detector technologies. Elements of data reconstruction and statistical analysis will also be discussed.

Instructional Method
The course will consist of 6 sections, each about 4 hours.  Each section will include about 2 hours lecture and 2 hours of peer instruction with one homework set to be completed later.  The instructors will be often available after hours to consult on the homework. There will be one or more laboratory visits related to the sections. 

Course Content
The course will give an overview of the broad aims of particle physics and cover basics of e+e- experimental techniques and detectors; liquid argon detectors; current and future neutrino experiments; ultrahigh energy cosmic ray observatories; directional dark matter experiments; absolute calibration of photon detectors; and an introduction to statistical methods and fitting.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) "Techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics Experiments: A How-to Approach" (2nd revised ed.), by William R. Leo, Springer-Verlag, 1994.

Notes by the instructors

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance as follows: Five homework sets, one for each of the five sections of the school; each will count 1/5 of the final grade.

Colorado State University course number: ENGR 697 Group Study: Special Topics in Accelerator Physics and Engineering: High-Energy Physics Principles and Instrumentation
Indiana University course number: Physics 671
Michigan State University course number: PHY 963
MIT course number: 8.790 "Accelerator Physics"