Particle Physics Research Lab for Neutrino Research under DUNE Project to Cost $1.4 Billion

Particle Physics Research Lab for Neutrino Research under DUNE Project to Cost $1.4 Billion

Nearly 1,000 scientists and engineers will be working on an international project named Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) for next 10 years to build first of its kind research project for neutrinos. Researchers from 30 countries will be working on this ambitious project with an initial estimated budget of $1.4 billion. The project has officially begun on July 21 with groundbreaking ceremony held at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory research team will be working on the project along with researchers from other parts of the world.

The focus of the experiment will be on subatomic particles known as neutrinos. Physicists call them ghost particles and little is known about them at the moment. While the project will need 10 years for completion, researchers will be conducting some interesting experiments over next five years. University of Texas at Arlington will play an important role in development of the facility.

Commenting on the occasion, Jonathan Asaadi, an assistant physics professor at the University of Texas at Arlington said, “Clearly, we live in a universe that’s made of matter. It’s one of the grand mysteries of the origins of the universe that will be answered by a $1.4 billion high-energy particle collision experiment in which UTA is playing a key developmental role.” Asadi added, “We have evidence of dark matter. The problem is we’ve yet to detect dark matter.”

As part of the collaboration, Fermilab will generate a beam of neutrinos and send them 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) through the earth to Sanford Lab, where a four-story-high, 70,000-ton detector will be built beneath the surface to catch those neutrinos.

“Fermilab is proud to host the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, which bring together scientists from 30 countries in a quest to understand the neutrino,” said Nigel Lockyer, director of Fermilab. “This is a true landmark day and the start of a new era in global neutrino physics.”

When complete, the experiment will be the largest built in the United States to study the properties of mysterious particles called neutrinos. Unlocking the mysteries of these particles could help explain more about how the universe works, and why matter exists.

“Today is extremely exciting for all of us in the DUNE collaboration,” said Ed Blucher, professor of physics at the University of Chicago and the Enrico Fermi Institute and co-spokesperson for the DUNE collaboration. “It marks the start of an incredibly challenging and ambitious experiment, which could have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe.”

"With this groundbreaking, UW–Madison's Physical Sciences Laboratory reaches another achievement in its already illustrious history in global neutrino research," says Marsha Mailick, UW–Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. "The Physical Sciences Laboratory has played integral roles in the success of such sophisticated science experiments as the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland."

Neutrinos are little-understood, but their role in understanding matter and the dynamics of the universe is growing as science continues to learn more about the enigmatic particles through a constellation of new and exotic detectors, including the new DUNE experiment.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will be held simultaneously today at the Sanford Lab in South Dakota and at Fermilab in Illinois.

The facility will provide the neutrino beam and the infrastructure that will support the DUNE detectors, taking advantage of Fermilab's powerful particle accelerator complex and Sanford Lab's deep underground areas within a long, existing tunnel carved out during the gold mining days of the 1930s.

The first APA was shipped from the PSL on July 7 and arrived at CERN on July 12. The panel is part of the ProtoDUNE detector, a prototype for the massive Far Detector that will eventually be housed underground in South Dakota. The Far Detector is a Time Projection Chamber (TPC), a type of particle detector that uses a strong electronic field together with a sensitive volume of gas or liquid to perform a three-dimensional reconstruction of a particle trajectory or interaction. In the case of DUNE, the TPC will be positioned within a cryostat filled with argon.

Eventually, DUNE will consist of two particle detectors placed in the world's most intense neutrino beam. One detector will record particle interactions near the source of the beam, at Fermilab, while the other, filled with 70,000 tons of liquid argon and cooled to –300 degrees Fahrenheit, will take snapshots of interactions deep underground at the Sanford Lab.