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Displaced vertex search for heavy neutral leptons using the ATLAS detector Trischuk, Dominique


This dissertation presents a search for long-lived heavy neutral leptons (HNLs) in proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The Standard Model (SM) of particle physics is an extremely successful theory and many of its major predictions have been precisely confirmed. However, the existence of neutrinos, with small nonzero masses, suggests that the SM is incomplete. Introducing HNLs into the SM is a natural way to generate the light neutrino masses through a seesaw mechanism. Theories that postulate the existence of such particles can also explain the asymmetry between matter and anti-matter in our universe and models with at least three HNLs provide a dark matter candidate. This experimental search uses ATLAS data collected between 2015 and 2018 at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV. A non-standard technique is used to search for a displaced vertex from particle trajectories produced in the HNL decay to leptons. The dominant background from uncorrelated leptons crossing in the ATLAS detector is estimated using an object shuffling method. The reconstructed HNL mass is used to discriminate between signal and background. No excess of events is observed and constraints on the strength of the interactions between HNLs and neutrinos are imposed in various scenarios. This dissertation also presents new methods to study the readout system and performance of a silicon strip tracking detector. The LHC is currently undergoing upgrades that will enable it to produce more than ten times the data that has already been collected. To meet the requirements of this challenging new environment, an all-silicon particle tracking system will be installed in ATLAS.

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