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Physics team moves ahead on research project at KEK Super B Factory

Inside the KEK Super B Factory in Tsukuba, Japan.

Inside the KEK Super B Factory in Tsukuba, Japan.

One of the UHM’s future physics projects, Belle II at the KEK Super B Factory, has passed a critical U.S. funding and approval milestone and is on track for installation in 2015 in Tsukuba, Japan.

UH Mānoa Physics Professors Tom Browder, Sven Vahsen and Gary Varner, along with other UHM postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, participated in the first Belle experiment at Tsukuba, Japan’s KEK B Factory. It is celebrated for its critical role in experimentally verifying the theoretical scheme of Kobayashi and Maskawa, winners of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Vahsen is the level-2 manager for the BEAST-II accelerator background commissioning detector, Varner is the level-2 manager for electronic readout systems, and Browder is the Belle II spokesperson. UH Mānoa is responsible for major components of the particle identification readout systems using Varner’s renowned “oscilloscope on a chip” application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) as well as the background commissioning system, which detects neutrons with Vahsen’s innovative micro-time projection chambers (micro-TPCs).

For large new projects, the U.S. Department of Energy has a multi-stage approval process with a series of critical decisions (CD). After a series of reviews (CD-1 was approved in January 2013), U.S. Belle II has just passed the CD-2 and CD-3 benchmarks and the UHM team is authorized to start construction of the final detector components.

B Factories are high-energy particle accelerators that produce particles containing b (beauty) quarks in large numbers, close to 1 billion/year. The KEK Super B Factory will produce about eighty times more b quarks than the existing facility at KEK. However, this requires significant improvements in the capabilities of the devices used to detect them. Operation of the KEK Super B Factory accelerator is expected to begin in mid-2015 with the first stage of Belle II detector roll-in and commissioning in late 2015 and physics data taking in 2016-2017.

In addition to the three UH Mānoa faculty members, members of the Belle II project are senior researcher Michael Jones, postdoctoral scholars Matt Barrett, Brian Kirby, Igal Jaegle, Peter Lewis, Bostjan Macek, Isar Mostafanezhad, engineers Matt Andrew and Marc Rosen, and graduate students Shawn Dubey, Michael Hedges, Ilsoo Seong and Xiaowen Shi.

Other collaborating institutes in the $15 million U.S. Belle II project include Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Cincinnati, Luther College, Kennesaw State, Indiana University, University of Pittsburgh, University of South Alabama, University of South Carolina, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Wayne State University and Pacific Northwest National Lab.

The UHM Physics and Astronomy Department is located within the College of Natural Sciences. For more information on the research project, visit:

Source:  A UH Mānoa press release.

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