Accelerator-based Neutrino Experiments

Neutrino Experiments

Neutrinos are as mysterious as they are common. They pass through matter almost unnoticed, travel at very close to the speed of light, and the three types of neutrino can spontaneously transform into one another in a process called oscillation.

Although much has been learned about neutrino oscillations, the most exciting questions are still unanswered. To provide definitive answers, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is being developed, which will use a neutrino beam created by the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) traveling from Fermilab in Illinois through the Earth to a massive neutrino detector located in the Homestake mine in South Dakota. By measuring how neutrinos change during their journey, the team seeks to determine which types of neutrinos are heavier than the others and whether neutrinos have anything to do with the fact that our universe contains more matter than antimatter.

Currently in the R&D and prototyping stage, this is expected to be the flagship experiment of the U.S. on-shore high-energy physics efforts in the 2020s. SLAC is providing a state-of-the-art data acquisition system for the facility, a prototype of which is expected to start taking data in March 2015 and should lead to a refined design that can be scaled up to the required size. SLAC will also work on event reconstruction and analysis of the data coming from this prototype.

In addition, SLAC is also involved in the MicroBooNE experiment at Fermilab, which will investigate a previously observed yet unexpected excess of neutrinos at low energies. When MicroBooNE starts taking data in early 2015, it will also search for a possible fourth type of neutrino, the sterile neutrino. SLAC is participating in MicroBooNE in the areas of event reconstruction and data acquisition. MicroBooNE will likely publish physics results starting in 2016.