Junjie Zhu : Then and Now / 2012 Early Career Award Winner


Why is there something instead of nothing? 

What is the origin of mass in the universe? 

These are the questions I studied with my support from the Department of Energy (DOE) 2012 Early Career Research Program. 

Precision measurement of rare particle interactions provides a unique test of our most delicate physical theories. In particular, my work focused on interactions that produce multiple vector bosons (the particles responsible for nuclear decay, how atomic nuclei lose energy). 

My work led to the first-ever evidence of two rare but important physics processes (same-sign WW vector boson scattering and WWW triboson production) at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. These measurements have far-reaching implications regarding our understanding of the generation of mass made possible by the discovery of the Higgs boson.

In order to improve our measurements and better our understanding of the origin of the universe, physicists are always developing innovative technologies. My research group designs fast, low-latency (high volume with minimal delay), and low-power consumption integrated circuits for the ATLAS experiment at the LHC.

We also led the integration and commissioning of a new set of particle detectors on-site in Geneva.

Developing and integrating these new technologies will allow us to continue to answer nature’s biggest questions.


Junjie Zhu is a professor of physics at the University of Michigan.


The Early Career Research Program provides financial support that is foundational to early career investigators, enabling them to define and direct independent research in areas important to DOE missions. The development of outstanding scientists and research leaders is of paramount importance to the Department of Energy Office of Science. By investing in the next generation of researchers, the Office of Science champions lifelong careers in discovery science.

For more information, please go to the Early Career Research Program.


Title: Search for New Physics and Upgrade of the Muon Spectrometer at ATLAS


The very successful operation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the first two years has enabled physicists to venture far into unexplored territories of the Tera‐electron‐volts energy scale and has provided unique opportunities to make fundamental discoveries in particle physics. This research will focus on searching for new physics with vector gauge boson pairs or lepton pairs with the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) experiment. These studies could provide insights to the source of electroweak symmetry breaking or the existence of new dynamics and new force carriers. In order to maximize the discovery potential at the energy frontier, this project also aims to improve the performance of the ATLAS muon spectrometer by developing an upgrade strategy for the forward muon trigger system for future high energy and high luminosity physics programs at the LHC.


The ATLAS Collaboration, “Evidence for Electroweak Production of W^{\pm}W^{\pm}jj in pp Collisions at sqrt{s}=8 TeV with the ATLAS Detector.” Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 141803 (2014). [DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.141803]  

The ATLAS Collaboration, “Search for triboson WWW production in pp collisions at sqrt{s}=8 TeV with the ATLAS detector.” Eur. Phys. J. C 77,141 (2017). [DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-017-4692-1]

J Wang, L Guan, JW Chapman, B Zhou, J Zhu, “Design of a Trigger Data Serializer ASIC for the Upgrade of the ATLAS Forward Muon Spectrometer.” IEEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science 64, 2958 (2017). [DOI: 1109/TNS.2017.2771266]



DOE Explains… offers straightforward explanations of key words and concepts in fundamental science. It also describes how these concepts apply to the work that the Department of Energy’s Office of Science conducts as it helps the United States excel in research across the scientific spectrum. For more information on the Standard Model of Particle Physics and the Higgs boson and DOE’s research in this area, please go to “DOE Explains…the Standard Model of Particle Physics” and “DOE Explains…the Higgs boson.”

Additional profiles of the Early Career Research Program award recipients can be found at the Early Career Program highlights page.

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Sandra Allen McLean
Sandra Allen McLean (sandra.mclean@science.doe.gov) is a communications specialist in the Office of Science’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
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