Extracting signals of elusive particles from giant chambers filled with liquefied argon

The central piece of the MicroBooNE detector is a liquid-argon time projection chamber — a bus-sized tank filled with argon (kept liquid at a biting minus 303 degrees Fahrenheit). Photo: Reidar Hahn

A revolutionary new kind of neutrino detector sits at the heart of the MicroBooNE experiment at Fermilab. In two new papers published by the Journal of Instrumentation, the MicroBooNE collaboration describes how they use this detector to pick up the telltale signs of neutrinos. The papers include details of the signal processing algorithms that are critical to accurately reconstruct neutrinos’ subtle interactions with atoms in the detector.

Read about the research described in the papers on Brookhaven’s news site.

By Karen McNulty Walsh of Brookhaven National Laboratory

What’s the deal with antimatter?

Antimatter can be found in science fiction and in fact. It both powers fictional starships and is associated with one of the most perplexing mysteries in modern physics. Since our theories suggest that matter and antimatter should have been made in equal quantities, yet we observe only matter, this mystery is really quite fundamental: Why are we here at all?

http://news.fnal.gov/2012/09/what-s-the-deal-with-antimatter/, by Don Lincoln

The MiniBooNE search for dark matter

This schematic shows the experimental setup for the dark matter search. Protons (blue arrow on the left) generated by the Fermilab accelerator chain strike a thick steel block. This interaction produces secondary particles, some of which are absorbed by the block. Others, including photons and perhaps dark-sector photons, symbolized by V, are unaffected. These dark photons decay into dark matter, shown as χ, and travel to the MiniBooNE detector, depicted as the sphere on the right.

Some theorists speculate that dark matter particles could belong to a “hidden sector” and that there may be portals to this hidden sector from the Standard Model. The portals allow hidden-sector particles to trickle into Standard Model interactions. A large sensitive particle detector, placed in an intense particle beam and equipped with a mechanism to suppress the Standard Model interactions, could unveil these new particles.

By Ranjan Dharmapalan and Tyler Thornton


Perfecting the noise-canceling neutrino detector

This two-dimensional event display shows the raw signal (a) before and (b) after offline noise filtering. Clean event signatures were recovered once all excess noise was removed.

If you have ever tried to watch a movie or listen to music on a plane, then you know the problem well: The roar of the engines makes it difficult to hear what’s being piped through the speakers — even when those speakers are situated in or on your ear. 

In a similar manner, at the MicroBooNE detector we identify and filter out several excess noise sources.

Click on this to go to the Fermilab News article:

Special Announcement


We are expanding the Fermilab Today Result of the Week podcast to include the Fermilab News feature, Physics in a nutshell.

Also, I am personally organizing a year-long photography challenge for people at Fermilab called DIFF, the Daily Image From Fermilab. If you happen to be at Fermilab now, you can find out more at https://diff.fnal.gov. Unfortunately, this URL is invisible off-site.

Spin correlations in top pair production

Olena Karacheban, Slava Shary, Boris Tuchming, and SungWoo Youn

Measuring the spin of top quarks, and wet driveways.

http://news.fnal.gov/2016/01/spin-correlations-in-top-pair-production/, by Leo Bellantoni.