The award funds the research activities of Alakabha Datta at the University of Mississippi.

It is known that there are six quarks and six leptons forming the fundamental particles in Nature. The quarks are composed of three "flavors" with charge +2/3 (up, charm, top) and three with charge -1/3 (down, strange, bottom). These particles all mix together in the weak interaction - for example, the particle that interacts weakly with the up quark is a combination of down, strange and bottom quarks. The mixing angles and masses have all been measured precisely, but the values of the masses and mixing are completely mysterious. This is called the "flavor puzzle". Precision studies of some quarks and leptons, the bottom and top quark, and the tau lepton, are very, very sensitive to new physics beyond the standard model. So very precise studies of the interactions of these objects can lead to understanding new physics. That in turn can lead to expected signatures at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The proposed project will be to explore clean ways to look for physics beyond the Standard Model in the flavor sector and to find the structure of the new physics. With the historic discovery of a new particle, the Higgs boson, by the LHC it is expected that many new particles will be found at the LHC in the near future. Information on the couplings and other properties of these particles can be obtained from measurements in the flavor sector. It is also likely that many new particles may be beyond the reach of the LHC in which case information on these particles can be indirectly obtained from flavor physics. The educational activities will involve training of graduate students. An effort will be made to inform the general public and underrepresented groups in science about the relevance and importance of quantum mechanics and particle physics research via talks. There will be efforts to involve undergraduate and high school students in mini projects connected to the PI's research.

The aim of the project will be to look for new physics in various flavor sectors that include the b quark sector, the top quark sector and the tau neutrino and tau lepton sectors. The proposed research activities of the project will focus on the decays of the b quark that offer excellent probes of new physics that may or may not be within reach of the LHC. In particular b decays may offer clues to possible flavor changing interactions of the newly discovered Higgs boson at the LHC. The project will study the properties of new physics in b decays with special emphasis on B --> VV decays where V is a vector meson, in decays mediated by the quark level transition b --> s l^+l^- where l is a charged lepton and in the semileptonic decays b --> c({u})tau nu_tau decays.The project will probe the effects of new physics in top production and decays via CP violating observables. Finally, this project plans to look for new physics in the third generation lepton sector. The proposal will explore methods for finding and constraining non standard neutrino interactions (NSI) from neutrino oscillation and neutrino scattering data, specially involving the nu_tau and tau leptons. An important input in this investigation will be to properly take into account hadronic effects in obtaining bounds on NSI interactions. This is a theory project and various tools employed by theoretical particle physicists will be used in the project, such as mathematical calculations, numerical analysis, numerical simulation, and data fitting.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
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Keith R. Dienes
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University of Mississippi
United States
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