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    • 2020-07-24 16:10:13
    • Article ID: 735305

    ArgoNeuT sheds light on electron neutrino interactions

    • Credit: Image: ArgoNeuT

      An electron neutrino interacts in the ArgoNeuT detector. The incoming neutrino is invisible to the detector until it interacts with an argon nucleus to produce charged particles, which traverse the detector.

    The ArgoNeuT collaboration at Fermilab has published measurements of neutrino interactions using new strategies for identifying electron neutrinos. This is a channel critical for future experiments that seek to understand the difference between matter and antimatter in the world of neutrinos.

    The international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, hosted by Fermilab, will answer one of the biggest open questions in particle physics: How different is the behavior of neutrinos from antineutrinos? The answer rests on our understanding of how electron neutrinos interact in detectors like ArgoNeuT and DUNE across a broad range of energies.

    Neutrinos are simultaneously the most abundant particles in the universe and one of the most elusive. One particularly interesting feature that particle physicists study in detail is how frequently each of the three known kinds of neutrinos changes from one type into another as they move through time and space. Think of playing catch with friends: You throw a baseball only to have them catch a softball, or a Wiffle Ball, and you can’t know what they’re going to catch until it’s already in their hands. In this hypothetical game of catch you might ask, if I throw a baseball, how often will they catch a baseball, a softball or a Wiffle Ball? Physicists ask: If I start with a muon neutrino, how often will that muon neutrino be an electron neutrino by the time it interacts in my detector?

    To answer this question, physicists create beams of one type of neutrino, place a detector some distance away, and then count how many of each type of neutrino are observed by the detector to determine the rate at which each type of neutrino changes into another over that distance. But to accurately count neutrinos, particle physicists first need to understand how to infer the type of neutrino that interacted in a detector.

    ArgoNeuT was a small, high-resolution neutrino detector at Fermilab that collected data for six months just over a decade ago. Detectors like ArgoNeuT take high-resolution “pictures” of neutrino interactions. The neutrino itself is nearly invisible to the detector, and most of them pass straight through, never interacting at all. But on the rare occasion that a neutrino interacts with one of the argon atoms in ArgoNeuT, it can create other particles that can be identified. Particle physicists can use information about each particle produced when a neutrino interacts to infer the type and properties of the original neutrino.

    The kind and number of particles produced in a neutrino interaction also depends on the energy of the neutrino — neutrinos with more energy tend to produce more particles. Imagine breaking at the start of a game of pool. The harder you hit the white cue ball, the more the other balls will scatter across the table.

    One of the biggest challenges in neutrino physics is developing automated algorithms to classify neutrino interactions. Because neutrinos interact so rarely, it can be very hard to sort out the neutrino interactions you’re trying to count from everything else. In fact, among the roughly four million “pictures” collected by the ArgoNeuT detector, only about 100 contain the electron neutrino interactions that were studied in ArgoNeuT’s most recent paper, which presents new strategies for identifying electron neutrinos in detectors like ArgoNeuT.

    While muon neutrino interactions with argon have been studied, there remains a lack of data available for understanding electron neutrino interactions, particularly at higher energies. Yet this is exactly the range of neutrino energies that will be most relevant for DUNE, which aims to pin down answers to many of the remaining open questions particle physicists have about neutrinos (and generate new, exciting questions). The strategies developed in ArgoNeuT can be expanded and applied to current and future experiments across a wide range of neutrino energies.

    Rory Fitzpatrick and Josh Spitz are University of Michigan physicists. Tingjun Yang is a Fermilab physicist.

    The ArgoNeuT experiment is supported by the Department of Energy Office of Science.

    Fermilab is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.

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    Faced with pandemic shortages, researchers combine heat and humidity to disinfect N95 masks for reuse

    Faced with pandemic shortages, researchers combine heat and humidity to disinfect N95 masks for reuse

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    The American Nuclear Society designates the groundbreaking Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor a Nuclear Historic Landmark

    The American Nuclear Society designates the groundbreaking Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor a Nuclear Historic Landmark

    The record-setting PPPL tokamak that laid the foundation for future fusion power plants receives the distinguished landmark designation from the the American Nuclear Society.

    Brian O'Neill Named New Director for the Joint Global Change Research Institute

    Brian O'Neill Named New Director for the Joint Global Change Research Institute

    O'Neill to lead organization that advances scientific understanding of the ways in which human, energy and environmental systems interact, and has provided input to the White House, Congress, United Nations and other national and international governing and advising bodies.

    SLAC's Xijie Wang wins prestigious accelerator science award

    SLAC's Xijie Wang wins prestigious accelerator science award

    Xijie Wang, an accelerator physicist at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will receive the 2021 Nuclear and Plasma Science Society's Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award. Bestowed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the prestigious award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of particle accelerator science and technology.

    Argonne materials scientist Arturo Gutierrez named 2020 Luminary Honoree by HENAAC

    Argonne materials scientist Arturo Gutierrez named 2020 Luminary Honoree by HENAAC

    Argonne materials scientist Arturo Gutierrez has been recognized by HENAAC, the national organization that honors Hispanic scientists and engineers.

    DOE Funding Boosts Artificial Intelligence Research at Jefferson Lab

    DOE Funding Boosts Artificial Intelligence Research at Jefferson Lab

    Two physicists at DOE's Jefferson Lab have secured $2.16 million in funding for projects that harness the power of data analytics to make the work of studying the universe down to its smallest subatomic parts faster and more efficient.

    Argonne National Laboratory and AT&T extend climate resiliency project nationwide

    Argonne National Laboratory and AT&T extend climate resiliency project nationwide

    Argonne and AT&T have been working together to project risks from changing climate on America's Southeastern region. Today they've announced that they're extending their analysis to cover the entire contiguous U.S.

    Key Partners Mark Launch of Electron-Ion Collider Project

    Key Partners Mark Launch of Electron-Ion Collider Project

    U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar, leaders from DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory (Brookhaven Lab) and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), and elected officials from New York State and Virginia today commemorated the start of the Electron-Ion Collider project.

    Fermilab scientist Vladimir Shiltsev elected to Academia Europaea

    Fermilab scientist Vladimir Shiltsev elected to Academia Europaea

    Widely recognized for his work in accelerator beam physics, Shiltsev is one of 361 individuals elected to Academia Europaea, which promotes a wider appreciation of the value of European scholarship and research.

    PPPL physicist Hutch Neilson receives award for decades of leadership on national and international fusion experiments

    PPPL physicist Hutch Neilson receives award for decades of leadership on national and international fusion experiments

    Hutch Neilson, a physicist at PPPL who is head of ITER Projects, has received the 2020 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) Merit Award for decades of achievements, including collaborations with fusion experiments around the world from the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator in Germany to the international ITER experiment in the south of France.

    Virtual internships for physics students present challenges, build community

    Virtual internships for physics students present challenges, build community

    Summer is usually the time when student interns flock to PPPL to learn about fusion and plasma physics at a national laboratory. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's students participated virtually from their homes around the country.


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    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Harvesting Energy from Light using Bio-inspired Artificial Cells

    Scientists designed and connected two different artificial cells to each other to produce molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Engineering Living Scaffolds for Building Materials

    Bone and mollusk shells are composite systems that combine living cells and inorganic components. This allows them to regenerate and change structure while also being very strong and durable. Borrowing from this amazing complexity, researchers have been exploring a new class of materials called engineered living materials (ELMs).

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Excavating Quantum Information Buried in Noise

    Researchers developed two new methods to assess and remove error in how scientists measure quantum systems. By reducing quantum "noise" - uncertainty inherent to quantum processes - these new methods improve accuracy and precision.

    How Electrons Move in a Catastrophe

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    Lanthanum strontium manganite (LSMO) is a widely applicable material, from magnetic tunnel junctions to solid oxide fuel cells. However, when it gets thin, its behavior changes for the worse. The reason why was not known. Now, using two theoretical methods, a team determined what happens.

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    When Ions and Molecules Cluster

    How an ion behaves when isolated within an analytical instrument can differ from how it behaves in the environment. Now, Xue-Bin Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised a way to bring ions and molecules together in clusters to better discover their properties and predict their behavior.

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Tune in to Tetrahedral Superstructures

    Shape affects how the particles fit together and, in turn, the resulting material. For the first time, a team observed the self-assembly of nanoparticles with tetrahedral shapes.

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    Tracing Interstellar Dust Back to the Solar System's Formation

    This study is the first to confirm dust particles pre-dating the formation of our solar system. Further study of these materials will enable a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and have since altered them.

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Investigating Materials that Can Go the Distance in Fusion Reactors

    Future fusion reactors will require materials that can withstand extreme operating conditions, including being bombarded by high-energy neutrons at high temperatures. Scientists recently irradiated titanium diboride (TiB2) in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to better understand the effects of fusion neutrons on performance.

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    Better 3-D Imaging of Tumors in the Breast with Less Radiation

    In breast cancer screening, an imaging technique based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening tool alongside mammography to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. Now, a team is hoping to improve this imaging technique.

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Microbes are Metabolic Specialists

    Scientists can use genetic information to measure if microbes in the environment can perform specific ecological roles. Researchers recently analyzed the genomes of over 6,000 microbial species.


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