I’m part of an international team of around 1,000 scientists assembled to design and run this project – the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment – in order to study the most abundant yet elusive matter particle in the universe.
Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles that can’t be broken down into anything else.
To do this, DUNE will fire beams of neutrinos from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, US, along a 1,300km underground trajectory to the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota.
The experiment has to take place about one mile underground to protect the detectors from being overwhelmed by fake neutrino signals from the cosmic radiation that bombards the Earth.
In 1987 a nearby exploding star resulted in all the neutrino detectors in the world recording 25 neutrino events in total. Analysing the composition and time structure of such a neutrino pulse would revolutionise our understanding of supernovae and of neutrino properties.
Neutrinos are so tiny that their mass is probably not created by the Higgs Boson, recently discovered by the Large Hadron Collider, in the same way as most other elementary particles.