Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale”

Searching for the building blocks of matter

What happened at the big bang? What is the universe made of? Where does matter come from? Where is the antimatter that must have been created during the big bang? These are just some of the questions that physicists from all over the world are trying to answer with the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN research centre in Geneva.

The planned International Linear Collider (ILC) will continue to research and refine the results collected at the LHC. The Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale” aims to strengthen the position of particle physicists from German universities and research centres in the international environment at the LHC and ILC.

  • Duration: July 2007 to December 2012
  • Total funding: €26 million
  • Lead centre: Research Center DESY
  • Spokesperson: Dr. Ties Behnke (DESY) and Prof. Klaus Desch (University of Bonn)
  • Participating Helmholtz Centres: DESY, KIT
  • Partner institutes: Max Planck Institute for Physics
  • Universities: RWTH Aachen, HU Berlin, Bonn, Dortmund, Dresden, Freiburg, Gießen, Göttingen, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Mainz, LMU Munich, Regensburg, Rostock, Siegen, Würzburg, Wuppertal


The Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale” rests on four main pillars: physics analysis, grid computing, detector development and accelerator development. It is also engaged in joint activities such as organising Young Investigator Groups, fellowships and outreach programmes.

Since it was founded, the Helmholtz Alliance has established itself as an active, internationally recognised part of the research programmes at the LHC. It developed expertise and infrastructure at a local level to make them available to all its partners. Examples of this include the distributed computing infrastructure, the analysis centre and a joint detector laboratory that is spread across Germany.

DESY operates the German National Analysis Facility, and as such provides a shared analysis platform for LHC and ILC experiments. Its Analysis Centre supports research on strategically important points and helps train young particle physicists. DESY also provides key competencies and infrastructure in the fields of detector development and the development of high-energy accelerators.

The research into the building blocks of matter and their structure is carried out at the LHC at CERN and with a view to using the planned ILC. The LHC will offer new insight into the forces between elementary particles and the creation of matter by using particle collisions of up to 7 tera electron volts (tera means 1012). The physicists expect to use the high-energy collisions to finally close the gaps in the standard model of particle physics and prove the existence of the Higgs boson, which so far remains a hypothetical construct.

Further information:

Visit the website of the Helmholtz Alliance “Physics at the Terascale”

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