Professor William Detmold

Professor William Detmold

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Professor William Detmold is a particle and nuclear physicist, using theoretical and computational tools to study the universe at the smallest scales accessible. His overarching research goal is to understand the fundamental nature of the matter that we see around us. This is exemplified by two broad sets of questions that Professor Detmold seeks to answer:

1) Are there new particles, forces and interactions beyond those we already know? Can these be found through precision tests of the Standard Model of particle physics?
2) How does the complexity of the proton and of atomic nuclei, the building blocks of everyday matter, emerge from the underlying simplicity of the Standard Model? What does this tell us?

Over his career, Professor Detmold has addressed many aspects of these questions through performing numerical calculations on the world's largest computers and by developing machine learning techniques to exponentially improve these calculations and interpret the massive datasets that result.

Collaborative research project

This collaborative research project is made up of two key parts:

1. Research on the structure of the proton. Understanding the intricate structure of the proton in terns of its quark and gluon constituents is a frontier pursuit in nuclear and particle physics and providing multi-dimensional tomographic descriptions is a key science goal for new particle accelerators such as the $3B Electron-Ion Collider that will be operational in the 2030s. Professor Detmold’s group and those of University of Adelaide researchers Associate Professors Young and Zanotti have previously studied many aspects of proton structure using the tool of lattice quantum chromodynamics (LQCD) which solves the equations describing the dynamics of quarks and gluons using massive supercomputers. In recent works, these teams have studied the distribution of pressure within the proton as well as the distribution quarks in a proton moving at close to the speed of light. This research collaboration will investigate how these two aspects of hadron structure are related, by studying so-called generalised quark and gluon distributions.

2. Research on contraction algorithms for calculations of nuclear spectroscopy. One of the major computational challenges in the LQCD approach to nuclei (systems containing multiple protons and neutrons) is an exponential growth of complexity in the number of ways the different quarks can interact with each other, known as contractions, as the atomic number of the nucleus increases. Thus, to perform calculations of nuclei, new algorithms for evaluating these contractions are required. In collaboration with University of Adelaide PhD student Nabil Humphrey, Professor Detmold is currently benchmarking their cost as well as developing an entirely new class of algorithms that have the potential to reduce these costs even further. If this approach provides the speed-ups expected, it will open up the ability to calculate the energy spectrum and properties of nuclei that are larger than currently possible (this is more than an incremental step as there are atomic nuclei only slightly larger than those studied at present that have key roles in the formation of elements during the early universe and understanding their interactions from first principles will be transformative).

University of Adelaide host

Associate Professor Ross Young
School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

More information about Professor Detmold.