50 years of VUB-ULB Interuniversity Institute for High Energies

The VUB-ULB Interuniversity Institute for High Energies (IIHE) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The institute researches the smallest and largest building blocks of our world. Throughout its 50 years of existence, the IIHE has always been at the forefront of the revolution taking place in contemporary physics and therefore in our understanding of everything from the smallest elements of nature to the very largest structures in the universe. The IIHE is involved in major international experiments in high-energy physics, such as at CERN or in Antarctica.

The anniversary will be celebrated on Wednesday 14 September with a Colloquium at the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium in Brussels.

Barbara Clerbaux (ULB), IIHE director: "The IIHE is the first joint research institute between the two Brussels universities, ULB and VUB. It was created in 1972. We are very happy to celebrate today the 50th anniversary of the Institute. During these 50 years of research, important discoveries have been made at the IIHE to better understand the world around us. If we celebrate today this important moment and look back at the path we have taken, it is also and above all to look forward, to the missions ahead. To further unravel the mysteries of physics, we need to keep innovating. Only then can we make visible what is otherwise invisible. Moreover, these technological innovations are always finding their way into various applications in society, thus permanently changing it."

Jorgen D’Hondt (VUB), IIHE director: "Although the standard model of particle physics represents an incredible success in understanding our world, there are still several phenomena that we do not understand. For example, with the standard model we cannot explain why our experimental observations show that the universe is dominated by so-called dark matter or that there is much more matter than antimatter. By developing new technologies and analytical methods, we can provide more insight into the structure of matter. It is precisely because of the incompleteness of our current models that we know there are new physical phenomena to be discovered. With current and new experiments, the more than 100 researchers at IIHE are on a mission to find these phenomena."


Researchers at the IIHE helped construct the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of two large detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and analyse high-energy proton collisions there. The research helped lead to the ground-breaking discovery of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson in 2012.

IIHE and IceCube

The IIHE also plays an active role in the IceCube experiment, the neutrino observatory located at the South Pole. The observatory is one cubic kilometre in size and contains more than 5,000 optical sensors. IceCube explores unprecedented phenomena, including neutrinos coming from outside the galaxy at very high energy.

GRID computing

The IIHE also houses a Tier 2 cluster in the global computing network, better known as the GRID. This cluster is used by collaborators from all over the world. Much of the computer-intensive simulations and data analysis carried out by Belgian physicists is performed on it.

IIHE Colloquium 50 years of particle Physics research - 14 September - 10.00-18.00

Consult the agenda of the IIHE-50 colloquium. The keynote address will be given by Professor Daniela Bortoletto , head of the department of particle physics at Oxford University. The IIHE also welcomes two alumni that day, Wim Leemans (VUB) and Frederic Hemmer (ULB). Wim Leemans is director of the accelerator department at DESY, the German national centre for particle physics. Frederic Hemmer was head of the computing department at CERN for many years.

The IIHE-50 booklet and IIHE-50 video will be published online.

Read more IIHE news.