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Dr Ian Bailey


Ian Bailey

Lancaster University

Physics Building



Tel: +44 1524 593742

Research overview

My research is inspired by the search for new particles and forces at both high and low energies.

At high energies the appropriate tools are particle colliders. I have contributed to the design of proposed next-generation colliders such as the ILC (International Linear Collider) where I have worked with colleagues on the tricky problem of delivering high intensities of positrons (anti-electrons).

At more modest energies the search for new physical phenomena can be carried out indirectly by the careful measurent of fundamental properties of particles, such as the measurement of the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon at Fermilab g-2 where I help study the dynamics of muons in particle beams.

At even lower energies the tools of particle physics are more compact. Here, I am looking for signs of WISPs (very light particles) such as hidden-sector photons or axions. In other words, I'm attempting to shine light through a wall...

PhD supervision

1) Intriguingly, there may be low-mass (sub-eV) particles in our Universe that have so far escaped detection. Light shining through a wall (LSW) experiments are one technique for looking for particles such as the elusive axion (which is motivated by the solution to the 'strong CP problem'). PhD projects are available in the design, construction and analysis of data from innovative small-scale experiments searching for hidden-sector photons, axions and axion-like particles. 2) Very-intense sources of gamma-rays and positrons are required for a range of applications from the the highest energy particle colliders to low-energy spectroscopy. Sources of polarised positrons are particularly useful and my group has experience with the design of polarised positron sources based on helical undulator insertion devices perturbing high-energy electron beams. PhD projects are available designing and developing future sources and exploring the physics that they make possible. 3) In addition, projects are available simulating the beam dynamics of particles within the Fermilab Muon g-2 experiment which is searching for physics beyond the Standard Model by making a precise measurement of the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon.


Dr Ian Bailey is a lecturer in accelerator physics and a member of the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology.

Research Interests

Previous research

My background is in particle physics. I carried out my PhD at the OPAL experiment at LEP (the Large Electron Positron Collider), CERN searching for the effects of anomalous gauge couplings in W+W- production. I maintain an affectionate interest in electroweak phenomena and spin density matrices.

Current research

In 2005 I joined the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology as an accelerator physicist where I worked initially as a member of the heLiCal collaboration and the International Linear Collider Global Design Effort contributing towards future particle colliders such as the ILC (International Linear Collider), CLIC (Compact Linear Collider) and LHeC (Large Hadron electron Collider). My current work is spread across several related but distinct areas:

  1. Studying polarised particle beams as tools to increase the sensitivity of future particle colliders and specialised experiments such as Fermilab muon g-2.
  2. Searching for exotic electromagnetic phenomena, such as axions and related "hidden-sector" particles by exploiting the properties of electromagnetic waves in metallic and dielectric structures.
  3. Designing high-flux sources of positrons and gamma rays for future high-energy colliders and other applications, e.g. nuclear physics.
  4. Studying the depolarisation of particle beams and related phenomena in very intense electromagnetic fields.


Additional Information

Why physics?

Physics consists of a series of puzzles and speculative scenarios that both delight and frustrate us, until, through a process difficult to define,  they reveal hints of reality and our own role in it. Almost any recreational or creative human pursuit provides evidence of humanity's need to solve puzzles or create them for others. Moreover, our empirical understanding of the world around us is founded on puzzling: a sifting of information in the search for patterns. Not knowing the underlying causes of what we observe apriori, we are forced to induce the most likely causes and use this as the basis of future prediction. Critically, the extent to which we can be confident in our models of reality does not depend solely on subjective debate; it can be quantified objectively from the data.

Developing models of reality validated by experiment leads us to insights that expose the hidden connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena and enhance our appreciation of the beauty of the Universe we inhabit. Even over an entire lifetime the amount of original knowledge we assimilate in this way may be small, but it is intrinsically precious.

Physics well-directed has the capacity to help provide solutions to some of the problems faced by humanity today and in the near future, but this is not its exclusive purpose. Given room to flourish undirected, physics also has the potential to incisively challenge our understanding and transform our tomorrows.

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Current Teaching

In this academic year I am teaching our first year course on differential equations and series, and providing support for our third year student learning problem-solving skills for the general physics paper. I am also teaching a graduate course on beam dynamics and coordinating the postgraduate teaching assistants who play an important role in helping the department deliver our undergraduate modules.

My recent teaching includes undergraduate courses in computer modelling (using Java), nuclear and particle physics, and accelerator physics. My recent administative duties include being a deputy admissions tutor in the department liasing with both UK and international students,  and managing the OpenPlus degree scheme through which students can enter Lancaster after studying with the Open University.

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