particle physics

Research: New detector for neutrino research represents next frontier in particle physics

 

SMU is one of more than 100 institutions from around the world building hardware for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) – a massive international experiment that could change our understanding of the universe.

Construction for the particle detector will take years and scientists expect to begin taking data in the middle of the next decade, said SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan, a professor in the SMU Department of Physics and a researcher on the experiment. The groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday, July 21, 2017 at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota.

The LBNF will house the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. Called DUNE for short, it will be built and operated by a group of roughly 1,000 scientists and engineers from 30 countries, including Coan.

When complete, LBNF/DUNE will be the largest experiment ever built in the United States to study the properties of the mysterious particles, which could help explain more about how the universe works and why matter exists at all.

“DUNE is designed to investigate a broad swath of the properties of neutrinos, one of the universe’s most abundant but still mysterious electrically neutral particles,” Coan said.

The experiment seeks to understand strange phenomena like neutrinos changing identities — called “oscillation” — in mid-flight and the behavioral differences between a neutrino an its anti-neutrino sibling, Coan said.

“A crisp understanding of neutrinos holds promise for understanding why any matter survived annihilation with antimatter from the Big Bang to form the people, planets and stars we see today,” Coan said. “DUNE is also able to probe whether or not the humble proton, found in all atoms of the universe, is actually unstable and ultimately destined to eventually decay away. It even has sensitivity to undertanding how stars explode into supernovae by studying the neutrinos that stream out from them during the explosion.”

— Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

SMU to host international particle physics workshop April 27-May 1, 2015

DIS 2015 Dallas Hall oculus-splash logoMore than 300 of the world’s leading experts on particle physics are about to converge on Dallas for one of the discipline’s most important annual gatherings. The 2015 International Workshop on Deep-Inelastic Scattering and Related Subjects (DIS), held annually in a world-class city, will be hosted by SMU April 27-May 1, 2015,

A public panel will kick off the workshop week on Sunday, April 26. Steve Sekula, SMU assistant professor of physics, will host fellow physicists Joe Izen of UT-Dallas, Pat Skubic of the University of Oklahoma and Chris Jackson of UT-Arlington for “If the Universe is the Answer…What is the Question?” at 6:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information and parking directions, contact the Department of Physics, 214-768-2495.

> Follow the conference on Twitter: #DIS2015

SMU physicists are active in several major international scientific consortia on particle physics experiments, including one of the most notable – the Large Hadron Collider. The 23rd annual DIS workshop brings these scientists together to discuss both the results from current experiments and the theoretical advances that will guide the future.

> Learn more at the DIS 2015 homepage: dis2015.org

Research Spotlight: Glimpse of light in search for dark matter?

Accelerator photoA group of experimental particle physicists have reported in the latest issue of the journal Science that they cannot rule out that they may have seen a glimpse of dark matter.

Physicists have been searching for dark matter – the substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe – for decades. Jodi Cooley, an assistant professor of experimental particle physics in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, is a member of the collaboration on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) experiment.

The experiment is located deep in the Soudan Underground Laboratory in an abandoned mine in a national park in Minnesota.

BBC News reported on the published results in “Study hints at dark matter action,” written by BBC science reporter Doreen Walton and published to the BBC News website Feb. 11, 2010.

Cooley, quoted in the BBC article, said, “Either we had a statistical fluctuation in our background or it could be that these two events are evidence of dark matter but there weren’t enough of them to be sure.”

The scientific findings were published in the journal Science on Feb. 11, “Dark Matter Search Results from the CDMS II Experiment.”

Cooley and her colleagues earlier announced the groundbreaking CDMS findings at dual press conferences on Dec. 17. The team, known as the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, hosted simultaneous talks by Cooley at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory in California and by Lauren Hsu of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

Read more from the SMU Research blog