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LAPTh - Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique Théorique

by Yannis Karyotakis - 2 April 2010

LAPTh consists of 16 CNRS researchers, 7 Université de Savoie faculty, 4 administrative staff and 2 computer engineers. As of September 2011, it hosts 7 doctoral students and 3 post-doctoral fellows. The scientific areas are represented by three broad activities grouped into three teams: I) particle physics , II) particle astrophysics and cosmology , III) mathematical physics . In particle physics the team is known for important contributions in both the standard model (electroweak and QCD: from photon to Higgs physics, precision loop calculations, quark gluon plasma) and beyond the standard model (supersymmetry and Higgless scenarios, dark matter). In astrophysics the team is world leader in cosmic ray propagation and dark matter in general, gamma ray bursts and neutrinos from the sky. In cosmology there is leading expertise in the extraction of the cosmological parameters (including data on massive neutrinos), CMBPol and constraints on inflation, and non-standard cosmology. In mathematical physics one of the most recent breakthroughs was achieved by members of LAPTh. This concerns the discovery of a dual superconformal symmetry in N=4 super Yang-Mills and its connection with Wilson loops. Existence of an underlying Yangian in such systems brought another expertise of LAPTh, integrable systems, to the frontline. These seemingly formal aspects are in fact revolutionising the computation of scattering amplitudes for processes at the LHC. LAPTh is also known for the development of tools for colliders and in astrophysics (micrOMEGAs, Golem, Diphox, USINE). LAPTh members were among the first, in the subject of dark matter, to address the synergy between searches at colliders and `in the sky”. It is clear from this short description that the activities of LAPTh are at the heart of the topics that this Labex covers.

The laboratory benefits from the geographical vicinity of CERN (50kms) and from sharing a building with LAPP initiating with the latter an International Centre for High Energy Physics and Astrophysics (CIPHEA) that has attracted many first class physicists. LAPTh has also been running some world renowned events among them RAQIS in mathematical physics, PhysTeV in particle physics since 1999, the latter having set standards and accords for the physics at the LHC (Les Houches Accords). LAPTh has been awarded an A+ label by the AERES in recognition for the quality of its research. To further illustrate the excellence of LAPTh, it should be mentioned that the laboratory hosts 4 “médailles du CNRS”, six out of the seven members of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) of the Université de Savoie are LAPTh members. Moreover one member of LAPTh is the recipient of two prestigious prizes: Max-Planck and Heineman prize. Taking the 2006-2009 period as reference (AERES), each team published more than 100 papers.

Training : For the period 2005-2009, 21 doctoral students graduated after having pursued their PhD at LAPTh. As testimony of the attraction of LAPTh 1/3 of these came from the Master Programme of Lyon and Grenoble in which LAPTh is involved. For the rest, we have been able to reach out for other students in France (including Grandes Ecoles) and particularly from abroad . The latter have been financed through foreign, binational or Marie Curie fellowships , thanks to vigorous actions outside France. Among these, let us mention that LAPTh has led the proposal of the now successful Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Programme “International Relativity and Astrophysics” . In Algeria, we have helped set up and take part into the 3ème cycle de l’Université de Jijel. A member of LAPTh is head of the LIA FVPPL (CNRS-Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology). Many of the Vietnamese students (Master and PhD) in France are a result of his action. Thanks to close scientific collaborations between LAPTh physicists and Università di Torino and Università Roma Tre , six students prepared a «co-tutelle» thesis. Physicists also teach at various doctoral schools in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. They also organise and/or teach at summer schools.

AERES assessment: grade A+ , in its 2010 report the AERES underlines:

  • The excellence of the laboratory: “LAPTh is one of the best French laboratories of theoretical physics, at the forefront on the international scene in all its three main areas of activity: particle physics, mathematical physics, and astrophysics/cosmology. The scientific production is regular and very well-balanced across the fields.”
  • The multidisciplinary: “LAPTh has a rare mix of first-rate expertise in both the formal and the phenomenological aspects of fundamental physics, ranging from string theory and the search for new physics in accelerator experiments, to astrophysics and cosmology.”
  • The international involvement, collaboration and attraction: “All three teams are well-inserted in the broader European research landscape, as evidenced by collaborations, participation in networks, invitations to (and organization of) conferences or workshops, and their ability to attract first-rate students and postdocs. The coexistence and good relations with LAPP, and the proximity of CERN, offer many opportunities which are being well exploited.”
  • Important link with education and public outreach: “The laboratory has a unique programme of outreach activities, addressed both to the wider public and to local high-schools. These help the integration of LAPTh in the region, and augment the visibility of fundamental science in a broader sense.”

See online : Official website