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Warwick physicists in new $500 million international partnership to probe some of universe’s most mysterious particles

Professor Gar Barker, University of WarwickUniversity of Warwick physicists have joined a new $500 million international partnership to probe some of universe’s most mysterious particles, thanks to the UK Government’s investment of £65 million in the programme. The flagship global science project, based in the United States, could change our understanding of the universe.

On Wednesday 20th September 2017, UK Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson signed an agreement with the US Energy Department to invest £65million in 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.

On signing the agreement in Washington DC, UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson said: “Our continued collaboration with the US on science and innovation is beneficial to both of our nations and through this agreement we are sharing expertise to enhance our understanding of many important topics that have the potential to be world changing.

“The UK is known as a nation of science and technical progress, with research and development being at the core of our industrial strategy. By working with our key allies, we are maintaining our position as a global leader in research for years to come.”

This investment is a significant step which will secure future access for University of Warwick, and other UK scientists, to the international DUNE experiment. Investing in the next generation of detectors, like DUNE, helps the UK to maintain its world-leading position in science research and continue to develop skills in new cutting-edge technologies.

Professor Gary Barker neutrino researcher in the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics said:

`This new announcement of capital funding will allow the UK to deliver significant components of the first DUNE Far Detector and of the proton accelerator complex used to produce the neutrino beam. The University of Warwick researchers are working on aspects of the software that will allow the Far Detector to record good quality data and this new announcement takes us one step closer to the day when we can analyse this data and see what secrets it holds.'

One aspect DUNE scientists will look for is the differences in behaviour between neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos, which could give us clues as to why we live in a matter-dominated universe – in other words, why we are all here, instead of having been annihilated just after the Big Bang. DUNE will also watch for neutrinos produced when a star explodes, which could reveal the formation of neutron stars and black holes, and will investigate whether protons live forever or eventually decay, bringing us closer to fulfilling Einstein’s dream of a grand unified theory.

Accompanying Jo Johnson on the visit to the US, Chief Executive Designate at UK Research and Innovation, Sir Mark Walport said: “Research and innovation are global endeavours. Agreements like the one signed today by the United Kingdom and the United States set the framework for the great discoveries of the future, whether that be furthering our understanding of neutrinos or improving the accessibility of museum collections.

“Agreements like this also send a clear signal that UK researchers are outward looking and ready to work with the best talent wherever that may be. UK Research and Innovation is looking forward to extending partnerships in science and innovation around the world.”

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 US is meeting the major civil construction costs for conventional facilities, but is seeking international partners to design and build major elements of the accelerator and detectors. The total international partner contributions to the entire project are expected to be about $500M.

The UK research community is already a major contributor to the DUNE collaboration, with 14 UK universities and two STFC laboratories providing essential expertise and components to the experiment and facility. This ranges from the high-power neutrino production target, the readout planes and data acquisitions systems to the reconstruction software.

The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will manage the UK’s investment in the international facility, giving UK scientists and engineers the chance to take a leading role in the management and development of the DUNE far detector and the LBNF beam line and associated PIP-II accelerator development.

Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of STFC, said: “This investment is a significant and exciting step for the UK that builds on UK expertise.

“International partnerships are the key to building these world-leading experiments, and the UK’s continued collaboration with the US, through STFC, demonstrates that we are the science partner of choice in such agreements.

“I am looking forward to seeing our scientists work with our colleagues in the US in developing this experiment and the exciting science which will happen as a result.”

Notes for Editoirs:

About DUNE -The LBNF will be the world’s most intense high-energy neutrino beam. It will fire neutrinos 1300 km from Fermilab in Illinois towards the 70,000 ton DUNE detector at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota in order to study neutrino oscillations. Once constructed, it will operate for at least 15 years undertaking a broad and exciting science programme.

More information about the facility and experiment can be found at:
http://lbnf.fnal.gov
http://dunescience.org

Images can be found here: http://www.dunescience.org/for-the-media.

UK involvement is through STFC and the following universities: The University of Warwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, Lancaster, Liverpool, UCL, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, and Sussex.

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at www.fnal.gov and follow them on Twitter at @Fermilab.

STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.
STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd.

STFC enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). http://www.stfc.ac.uk/

20th September 2017

For firther information please contact:

Professor Gary Barker
Department of Physics, University of Warwick,
Tel: +44 (0)2476 523399
E-Mail: g.j.barker@warwick.ac.uk

or

Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Media Relations
University of Warwick
Tel +44(0)24 76523708 office
+44(0)7767 655860 mobile
Email p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk