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CHIPP Prize 2014

A good foundation enables excellence

ETH doctoral candidate Marco Peruzzi has been awarded the CHIPP prize 2014 at the CHIPP annual meeting in Fribourg. The 26-year old physicist of Italian descent analyses the so called diphoton decay in the CMS experiment at CERN. His research is a valuable contribution to a better understanding of the Higgs-particle.

Marco Peruzzi

What characterizes a talented particle physicist? “He or she has the talent to develop genuinely new ideas and at the same time possesses the technical know-how to create software solutions quicker than others do”, says Günther Dissertori, Professor of particle physics at the ETH Zurich.

Talking about talented physicists, Dissertori has scientists like Marco Peruzzi in mind. Peruzzi is currently working on his dissertation in the field of particle physics in Dissertori´s department: “Marco Peruzzi came to the ETH with an excellent basic scientific education, in theory as well as in experimental knowledge“, says Dissertori. “The better the foundation, the more you can build upon it”, he adds.

Education in Pisa

Marco Peruzzi started his scientific career at the University of Pisa, at the Scuola Normale Superiore, which is renowned for its scientific excellence. But his fascination with physics started early on during his high school years in Florence, the city where he was born. Several times he participated in the Olympics of physics. In 2006 he even made it into the international competition. That year he was part of the Italian team that went to Singapore for the final round.

During his studies with Professor Luigi Rolandi at the University of Pisa, Peruzzi soon decided to specialize in particle physics. Pisa offers excellent conditions in this field: The University is a partner of the CMS, one of the four big experiments at the CERN particle accelerator LHC.

Research on diphoton events

After completing his Masters degree the young Italian physicist moved to Switzerland to continue his career at the ETH. For Peruzzi this was a logical step: “ETH is a leading University with an excellent reputation in my field of research.” ETH Zurich offered another advantage: Like Pisa the University in Zurich is part of the CMS experiment. Marco Peruzzi took the opportunity to continue his research within the CMS experiment, though in another field.

Like the other LHC-experiments, the CMS experiment analyses particle tracks created in the collision of high-energy protons. Marco Peruzzi's research is focused on a special part of the process in which the proton-proton collision leads to the creation (amongst others) of two photons. Such processes are called diphoton events. Peruzzi explains his research: “The analysis of the diphoton event also allows us to determine with high precision the effects of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) – the theory of strong interactions.”

Better understanding the Higgs

His research is not only very useful to verify with high precision and through experiment the effects of this established and many times proven theory. His research also promises a better understanding of the Higgs boson, which was detected two years ago but whose characterization is still in its early stages.

Diphoton events can have two sources. They are either the product of the decay of a Higgs boson or they stem from a QCD process. “While searching for the Higgs it is important to measure the contribution from the QCD processes. Our research is likely to help to describe the Higgs boson adequately”, Peruzzi says.

The talented young physicist talks about “our research” because he works in a team of five people. This team in turn is part of the CMS collaboration and thereby part of the big family of 2000 physicists who work in the CMS experiment.

Improving the calorimeter

Marco Peruzzi has proven to be a creative mind at CERN. For his accomplishments he has been awarded the 2014 CHIPP prize by the umbrella organization of Swiss particle physicists. At the same time the award acknowledges Peruzzi´s contribution to the optimization of the electromagnetic calorimeter, the measuring instrument that is used among others in the CMS experiment to analyze the decay products of the proton-proton collision.

A part of the calorimeter requires an upgrade because the particle accelerator LHC will operate with an even higher intensity from 2023 onwards. One goal is to better protect the parts of the calorimeter from additional radiation. Peruzzi has made valuable contributions to making the measuring instrument fit for future requirements.

Benedikt Vogel (published 2. 7. 2014)

Our CHIPP Prize 2014 video:

  • Marco Peruzzi (CHIPP Prize 2014) with Günther Dissertori, particle physicist at ETH Zurich.
  • Marco Peruzzi
  • Marco Peruzzi (CHIPP Prize 2014) with Günther Dissertori, particle physicist at ETH Zurich.Image: Benedikt Vogel1/2
  • Marco Peruzzi2/2
Chipp Prize 2014 Video


  • Elementary particles
  • Particle Physics