Facts & Figures 2017


In 2017, as part of an overall evaluation of all NWO-institutes, a team of renowned (astro)particle physicists reviewed the scientific quality, viability and societal relevance of Nikhef. The conclusion of the committee was clear: Nikhef is a world-leading institute in accelerator and astroparticle physics with an outstanding reputation in experimental physics. The way the Nikhef laboratory is organized is seen as enviable and Nikhef is regarded as delivering an excellent contribution to society. Of course, at Nikhef we were glad to receive these positive remarks.

In April the data collection at the LHC experiments has started again, with the aim of the experiments to focus on high-precision measurements, while perhaps discovering deviations from Standard Model predictions. The LHCb experiment observes small deviations, hence we look forward to even higher statistics in the coming year in order to see if these become significant. The preparations for the upgrades for the LHC experiments are underway. For instance, the first Halve Stave for the silicon-based ALICE Inner Tracker System has been produced at Nikhef. The installation of upgrades for ALICE and LHCb is already due for 2019 during the next long LHC-break.

The year was further dominated by results on Gravitational Waves. VIRGO had its first detection period after years of preparation and made it first detection on August 14 of coalescing Black Holes together with LIGO. Within a few days, on August 17, for the first time a coalescence of two neutron stars was observed which was followed by a large number of observations by optical telescopes. In October the Nobel Price was given to the three pioneers of gravitational wave detection: Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish. The successes of these gravitational wave detectors underline the importance of the decision of Nikhef years ago to pursue the participation in this field.

Nikhef remains a very lively laboratory with many more scientific results and progress. To highlight a few results, the world-best limit on the direct detection of Dark Matter is set by the XENON1T experiment in Gran Sasso, Italy, with crucial involvements from Nikhef. The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina published the result that the ultra-high energy cosmic rays are of extragalactic origin. In the development of theory calculations, it is worth mentioning that the publication of the beta-function for the running coupling constant is now calculated at Nikhef at the 5-loop level. And here we are not even mentioning the developments in the Physics Data Processing group and the R&D group and all the innovations of the technology departments.

This year we will not issue a traditional annual report. Instead, the most important points of the research programmes and technical departments for this year are summarized by the group leaders in the following webpages and the underlying data for the scientific output and funding are provided as well.

With the support of all connected to Nikhef we are looking forward to an exciting 2018 with all new data coming in from our experiments!

Stan Bentvelsen, director Nikhef