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* Rensselaer To Collaborate on Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment

Rensselaer To Collaborate on Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment

The Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment captures faint flashes of light that indicate antineutrino interactions in detectors filled with scintillator fluids. Each detector is lined with photomultiplier tubes (shown at top).

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Rensselaer To Collaborate on Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment

The Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, which will include researchers from Rensselaer, has begun its quest to answer some of the most puzzling questions about the elusive elementary particles known as neutrinos. The first completed set of twin detectors for the experiment is now recording interactions of antineutrinos (antipartners of neutrinos) as they travel away from the powerful reactors of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group in southern China.

Neutrinos are uncharged particles produced in nuclear reactions, such as in the sun, by cosmic rays, and in nuclear power plants. They come in three types or “flavors” — electron, muon, and tau neutrinos — that morph, or oscillate, from one form to another, interacting hardly at all as they travel through space and matter, including people, buildings, and planets like Earth.

The startup of the Daya Bay experiment marks the first step in the international effort of the Daya Bay Collaboration to measure a crucial quantity related to the third type of oscillation, in which the electron-flavored neutrinos morph into the other two flavored neutrinos.

Rensselaer researchers, led by Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy James Napolitano, will be involved in the design, procurement, installation, and operation of the water purification system that feeds all three experimental halls involved in the project.

“Knowledge of the neutrino mixing angle will help all of us understand the origin of matter in the universe,” Napolitano says.

“This is a remarkable achievement after eight years of effort — four years of planning and four years of construction — by hundreds of physicists and engineers from around the globe,” says Yifang Wang of the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, co-spokesperson for the Daya Bay Collaboration and project manager for the Chinese effort.

China and the United States lead the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, which includes participants from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The Chinese effort is led by project manager Wang, and the U.S. effort is led by project manager Bill Edwards of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and chief scientist Steve Kettell of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

For more information, visit http://dayawane.ihep.ac.cn/twiki/bin/view/Public/WebHome.


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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 19, December 9, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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