Researchers at the University of Birmingham are set to benefit from the UK investing £65m in a flagship global science project based in the United States that could change our understanding of the universe.
The investment will secure ongoing access for UK scientists to the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). DUNE will study the properties of mysterious particles called neutrinos, which could help explain more about how the universe works and why matter exists at all.
Physicists at the University of Birmingham are focusing on developing the data-acquisition system which will collect and record the data produced by the large DUNE detector modules. Researchers from Birmingham are collaborating with other UK scientists at the world-renowned CERN facility in Switzerland to a build a prototype system, known as “ProtoDune”. As the project develops, researchers will also be involved in analysing the data gathered by DUNE.
DUNE will be the first large-scale US-hosted experiment run as a truly international project at the inter-governmental level, with more than 1,000 scientists and engineers from 31 countries building and operating the facility, including many from the UK.
The University of Birmingham has significant experience of designing, building and operating collaborative experiments in particle physics, including the world-famous CERN laboratory. In 2012, the University was part of an international team of scientists at CERN which discovered the Higgs Boson particle at CERN and, in 2015, Birmingham researchers helped detect Gravitational Waves for the first time. Both discoveries are helping us to better understand and explore the mysteries of our universe. This latest investment will enable Birmingham scientists to contributes their expertise to the DUNE experiment.
Dr Alan Watson, who leads on the DUNE Project at Birmingham, said: “Today’s announcement of a £65M investment in science will allow researchers at the University of Birmingham, along with our research partners, to continue to work on leading edge science which is helping to uncover the nature of matter and how the universe works.
"The DUNE project will allow us to investigate where the matter in the universe came from, study how a supernova explosion begins and whether protons can decay. We are looking forward to working with our colleagues from around the world to answer some of these fundamental questions."
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