Solid start in the quest for an elusive particle

Solid start in the quest for an elusive particle
The SoLid detector. Credit: Imperial College London

A collaboration of Belgian, French and British scientists, including researchers from Imperial College London, have developed a technology to detect a new kind of elementary particle: the sterile neutrino. The new detector has been successfully installed and has started taking data.

Dr Antonin Vacheret, from the Department of Physics at Imperial, is the spokesperson for the SoLid (Search for oscillation with a Lithium-6 detector) collaboration. He said: "All the particles we observed in the last four decades have been predicted by our theory. This success culminated with the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. A new type of neutrino would deeply change our vision of the universe and could give us a clue to what dark matter is."

Neutrinos are fundamental particles of nature but interact very weakly with matter and are therefore very difficult to detect. They were only observed for the first time in the 1950s in experiments close to nuclear reactors. Nuclear reactors produce neutrinos in large quantities and are the most intense man-made source of neutrinos.

Sterile neutrinos are more elusive than normal 'active' neutrinos as they don't interact with matter and are therefore impossible to detect directly with current technologies. The experiment instead looks for indirect signs that would indicate the presence of the particle via a phenomenon called neutrino oscillation.

M. Benoît Guillon from LPC Caen in France said: "It is a bit like looking at ripples on your bed to figure out if something is hidden under the blanket. You can't see what it is but you see the effect of it being there. That's what we will do with neutrinos."

Solid start in the quest for an elusive particle
What a detected event looks like. Credit: Imperial College London

Best place for research

The new SoLid neutrino detector was successfully deployed at the SCK•CEN BR2 reactor in Mol (Belgium) in November. The reactor, which is responsible for global production of medical radioisotopes used for imaging and cancer therapy, is also an ideal place to carry out fundamental research in the field of elementary .

Professor Nick van Remortel, SoLid's technical coordinator from the University of Antwerp, said: "The BR2 reactor environment is key; it turns out that it is one of the quietest places on Earth to do this experiment."

The experiment uses a novel type of detector made up of small scintillating cubes that locate any neutrino that stops in the detector. The whole detector acts as a 3-D camera recording neutrino signals with unprecedented resolution. For months, the collaboration has been assembling the 12,000 parts of the experiment and testing the 3,500 photon detectors that will 'see' the tiny flash of lights produced by neutrinos in the detector.

The collaboration also designed and built a calibration robot called Cross, operated successfully during the installation. The instrument provides reference signals to monitor various regions of the and its response to .

The experiment is currently taking commissioning data until the end of the year and SoLid aims to provide initial findings within a year, reaching maximum sensitivity in five years' time.

Explore further

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More information: … ts/solid/experiment/
Citation: Solid start in the quest for an elusive particle (2017, December 14) retrieved 22 July 2019 from
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Dec 15, 2017
All solid states are a coherent holographic form and will syncronise at the frequency existing in thye field it is in which is 296579657 cps. See the axiomatic derivation from basics on www kapillavastu dot com

Dec 15, 2017
If it's "sterile" they'll only find one, and it will be the ONLY ONE in the Universe.

Dec 15, 2017
If it's "sterile" they'll only find one, and it will be the ONLY ONE in the Universe.

What? Are you joking? Or had not even bothered to find out what sterile neutrinos are before you posted the above jibberish. Sterile neutrinos are a proposed extra neutrino that does not even interact by the weak force (hence "sterile"). Your risible contention that if they are sterile there can be only one in the universe yet again exposes your unwillingness and/or inability to actually learn any real science.

I again remind you that your imaginary scientific education is clearly evident with almost every post you make, so don't kid yourself that anybody is fooled by your ridiculous claims,

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