Paul T Debevec

Professor Emeritus


Paul T Debevec

Primary Research Area

  • Nuclear Physics
290J Loomis Laboratory


Professor Paul T. Debevec received his bachelor's degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 and his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1972. He joined the Department of Physics at the Indiana University as an assistant professor in 1974 after working as a research associate at Argonne National Laboratory. He came to the University of Illinois in 1977 as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 1983.

Professor Debevec has worked extensively on a multi-institutional experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory to measure the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon, which will sharpen the congruity between theoretical predictions and experimental results that form a cornerstone of the standard model. A key contribution was his development of the microstrip gas chamber to measure the number and direction of electrons flying from decaying muons.

Research Statement

As a collaborator in BNL E812, the g–2 experiment, my group is responsible for the measurement of the stored muon distribution. We have designed and built a compact system of drift chambers to track the decay electrons to determine the parent muon distribution. The convolution of this distribution and the precision field map is the field which precesses the muons. This quantity and the precession frequency together determine g–2. With our expected precession, we have an unambiguous test of the standard model and its extensions. The techniques developed in the g–2 experiment are leading us to a new measurement of the muon lifetime. The Fermi coupling constant, one of three fundamental constants of the standard model, is obtained from the muon lifetime.

Research Honors

  • APS Fellow 2002

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Spring 2006PHYS 401

Selected Articles in Journals

Articles in Conference Proceedings

Related news

  • Research
  • Particle Physics
  • High Energy Physics

What do you get when you revive a beautiful 20-year-old physics machine, carefully transport it 3,200 miles over land and sea to its new home, and then use it to probe strange happenings in a magnetic field? Hopefully you get new insights into the elementary particles that make up everything.

The Muon g-2 experiment, located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has begun its quest for those insights. This month, the 50-foot-wide superconducting electromagnet at the center of the experiment saw its first beam of muon particles from Fermilab’s accelerators, kicking off a three-year effort to measure just what happens to those particles when placed in a stunningly precise magnetic field. The answer could rewrite scientists’ picture of the universe and how it works.