UK researchers awarded £30m investment in global science project

The University of Edinburgh has received £650,000 to provide essential contributions to the DUNE experiment.

This is part of a UK multi-million pound investment in a global science project that brings together the scientific communities of the UK and 31 countries from Asia, Europe and the Americas to build the world’s most advanced neutrino observatory.  DUNE (the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment) is a flagship international experiment hosted by the United States Department of Energy’s Fermilab, which will be designed and operated by a collaboration of over 1,000 physicists.

Professor Stefan Söldner-Rembold of the University of Manchester, who leads the international DUNE collaboration as one of its spokespersons, commented:

DUNE has the unique potential to answer fundamental questions that overlap particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.

This £30M investment from UK Research and Innovations’ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a four-year construction grant to 13 UK educational institutions and to STFC’s Rutherford Appleton and Daresbury Laboratories.  UK scientists and engineers will design and produce components at the core of the DUNE detector, which will comprise four large tanks each containing 17,000 kg of liquid argon. The UK groups are also developing a state-of-the art, high speed data acquisition system, together with the computing systems and sophisticated software needed to record, interpret and exploit the data.

The University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy is constructing the computing and software infrastructure to process and simulate the data that will be recorded. The scale of  DUNE will be second only to that of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) programme, necessitating a global distributed system based upon the Worldwide Computing Grid. Edinburgh physicists and software engineers are working on the complex globally distributed data management system needed to catalogue and deliver the multi peta-Byte data sets to large data centres, as well as the development of artificial intelligence systems for recognising signals in the detector coming from neutrino interactions.

Neutrinos will be produced at Fermilab and fired through the earth to re-emerge some 1300km later in the underground mine where DUNE is situated. DUNE will study the behaviour of these neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos. This will provide insight as to why we live in a matter-dominated universe where antimatter has largely disappeared. DUNE will also watch for neutrinos from supernovae, and will investigate whether protons live forever or eventually decay, bringing us closer to fulfilling Einstein’s dream of a grand unified theory.

Professor Peter Clarke, the DUNE lead at the University of  Edinburgh commented:

This award is excellent news for the Particle Physics Group here in Edinburgh.  DUNE will set a new standard for neutrino detector technology. It is particularly exciting to know that we will become part of an experiment that may discover matter antimatter asymmetry in neutrino interactions, as well as become part of the global supernova watching community.

Professor Franz Muheim, of the Particle Physics Experiment group said:

Neutrinos are fascinating particles and the scale of the experiment poses an exciting challenge to record the information from the detectors.

The UK universities involved in the project are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Sussex, University College London and Warwick.