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Chandler Assembly Completed for Next Stage in the Program

      Over the course of the last two weeks, the CHANLER reactor neutrino detector team has assembled their MiniCHANDLER prototype detector. This inaugurates the final stage of a two-year R&D program that began with the MicroCHANDLER prototype and will wrap up with a deployment and test run of MiniCHANDLER at the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. MiniCHANDLER is comprised of 320 cubes of wavelength shifting plastic scintillator cubes and 6 thin sheets of lithium-6 (6Li) loaded zinc sulfide (ZnS) scintillator. The 6-cm cubes are arraigned in five layers of 8×8 cubes which are separated by the 6Li-loaded ZnS sheets. The cubes and sheets are well suited for detecting electron antineutrinos from nuclear reactors, which produce a positron and a neutron when they interact in the plastic cubes. The positron produces a prompt flash of light in the cube, while the neutron bounces around for a while before capturing on the 6Li in the sheet producing a delayed flash of light. The correlation between these two distinct events provides a clean indication of a neutrino interaction. The light from both the sheets and cubes is transported by total-internal-reflection along the rows and columns of cubes to the surface of the detector where it is read out by light detectors known as photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). MiniCHANDLER uses 80 PMTs. This unique method for reading out the light, known as a Raghavan optical lattice, was invented by the late CNP member Raju Raghavan. It provides precise spatial information for the neutrino interaction and neutron capture, which will be used to separate the true neutrino events, which must be close together in both time and space, from the random correlation of unassociated neutron captures and positron-like events that would otherwise form fake neutrino events.
      Upon the successful completion of testing at the power plant the team will prepare to build the full-scale detector consisting of a ton of cubes read out by over 1000 PMTs. This detector could be used to search for neutrino oscillations mediated by a proposed fourth neutrino type, known as a sterile neutrino, and may be useful for monitoring the core of nuclear reactors, perhaps even as a part of a verification program for nuclear non-proliferation.

The MiniCHANDLER Detector shown with half of its PMTs installed (on the right). The cubes (green) and sheets (white) are visible on the left.

Patrick Huber Honored as Fermilab Distinguished Scholar

      Center for Neutrino Physics member Patrick Huber has been appointed to the inaugural class of Fermilab Distinguished Scholars, a two-year program for U.S. particle physicists. As part of the award, Dr. Huber will be in residence at Fermilab for at least a month each year, and will have the same research opportunities as Fermilab scientists. In addition, Dr. Huber's award includes support for one or two students or postdocs to also visit Fermilab.

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CUORE Experiment Reaches Major Milestone

      The Cryogenic Observatory for Rare Events experiment (or CUORE) reached a major milestone recently, when all 19 of the detector modules (called towers), consisting of 988 TeO2 crystals and weighing almost 750 kg, were safely installed in the cryostat. Preparations are now underway cool the towers to their operating temperature of 10 mK, which is a hundredth of a degree above absolute zero. The experiment will search for neutrinoless double beta decay, a hypothetical but theoretically well motivated process eagerly sought by particle physicists to deepen our understanding of neutrino masses and possibly discover lepton number violation. Related processed are key ingredients in theories that attempt to explain the abundance of matter over antimatter in the Universe. CNP's Professor Thomas O'Donnell led CUORE tower construction and was a key member of the installation team.

The full CUORE Tower assembly in the the clean room before installation in the cryostat.

Physicists Gather at Virginia Tech to Discuss Quarks and Leptons

      Physics gathered at Virginia to discuss the latest findings in the area of heavy quarks and leptons. In the week of May 23rd, Virginia Tech's Center for Neutrino Physics, welcomed physicists from around the world to the XIIIth International Conference on Heavy Quarks and Leptons. The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Neutrino Physics, the College of Science, the Department of Physics and the Office of the VP for Research.
      Heavy Quarks and Leptons (or HQL for short) is dedicated to the study of the heavy quarks charm, bottom, and top with obvious extensions to interesting topics involving the strange quark. Neutrino oscillation studies and new insights in μ and τ lepton phenomenology are also included. The conference continues the tradition of regular scientific meetings, first started in 1993 at the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati. This years version of the biennial conference featured more than 75 pleanary talks, including recent results on heavy quarks from the LHC experiments and the dedicated heavy quark experiements Belle and BES. Results and updates from several neutrino experimets were also discussed.

The Heavy Quarks and Leptons Participants

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News & Events

Patrick Huber discusses his recent paper on monitoring Iran's nuclear reactor using neutrinos with WVTF radio. Listen to the interview here.


Camillo Mariani, of the Center for Neutrino Physics, has been named as the recipient of a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. Prof. Mariani's award will support his research on neutrino interactions in matter and create a QuarkNet center at Virginia Tech to attract high school teachers and students, with initial emphasis on neutrino physics.

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