State of the Laboratory in 2013

Research at the Three Frontiers

Research at Fermilab explores the fundamental physics of the world around us at each of the three frontiers of particle physics and develops the technologies for future particle accelerators. In 2013, the laboratory will be in the middle of constructing two new neutrino experiments, NOvA and MicroBooNE, and finish upgrades to several of its accelerators to support the shift of the laboratory's research focus from the energy to the intensity frontier. The accelerator complex with its seven accelerators will be running again in the summer of 2013.

More than 2,000 scientists from across the country and around the world collaborate on experiments at the laboratory. Fermilab's accelerator complex produces the world's most intense high-energy beam of neutrinos for experiments to lay bare the secrets of these enigmatic particles, and the laboratory is developing an ambitious research campus for muon physics. Fermilab is a leader in the search for dark matter and dark energy at both underground detectors and ground-based telescopes. The laboratory hosts a remote operations center, an analysis center and a computing center for more than 1,000 U.S. physicists collaborating on the CMS experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Scientists are using several R&D facilities and test accelerators on site to develop better accelerators and the tools for the particle physics research of tomorrow. The laboratory is constructing the Illinois Accelerator Research Center, where scientists and engineers from Fermilab, Argonne and Illinois universities will work side by side with industrial partners to research and develop breakthroughs in accelerator science and translate them into applications for the nation's health, wealth and security.

Experiments at the Intensity Frontier

Fermilab's accelerator complex produces the world's most intense beam of high-energy neutrinos, whose unique properties appear to be at the crux of many questions about the universe. Fermilab scientists are now building the next generation of neutrino experiments. The NOvA experiment will study the morphing of muon neutrinos into electron neutrinos and aims to determine the neutrino mass hierarchy. NOvA detectors are under construction at Fermilab and in Soudan, Minnesota.  The MINOS experiment uses a high-energy beam of neutrinos and underground detectors at Fermilab and in Minnesota to measure the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations. The MiniBooNE experiment uses a lower-energy neutrino beam to study neutrino interactions. The MINERvA experiment explores nuclear and particle physics through neutrino scattering.

When complete in 2013, the MicroBooNE experiment will use liquid-argon technology to measure low-energy neutrino phenomena. Another group of scientists and engineers is developing plans for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment, or LBNE, which would examine whether neutrinos are the reason that matter dominates over antimatter in our universe.

Fermilab also prepares to break new ground in research on rare phenomena involving muons, a heavy relative of the electron. The muon-to-electron conversion, or Mu2e, experiment and the Muon g-2 experiment will use muon interactions to look for new particles and forces.

Accelerator R&D at Fermilab and the construction of a test accelerator help develop the technologies needed for the next generation of accelerators at the Intensity Frontier, including the proposed Project X.

Experiments at the Energy Frontier

At the Energy Frontier high-energy particle collisions reveal new particles and phenomena. Fermilab serves as host laboratory for more than 1,000 U.S. scientists on the Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS, experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. In 2012, the experiment discovered the Higgs article, which is a major step toward explaining why elementary particles have mass. The physicists of the CDF and DZero collaborations continue to analyze the Tevatron data and have found hints of the Higgs particle as well. They will report their final Higgs results in 2013.

Accelerator scientists at Fermilab, who helped construct the LHC accelerator, will push the boundaries of accelerator R&D for the LHC upgrades and help investigate how a linear collider or a muon collider could help solve some of the most important questions about matter and energy.

Experiments at the Cosmic Frontier

Fermilab physicists bring the perspectives and technologies of particle physics to the search for dark matter and dark energy, and to the construction and operation of large-scale ground and space telescopes. Fermilab plays a prominent role in the study of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays through the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. Fermilab led the construction of the Dark Energy Camera for the Dark Energy Survey. In 2012, the camera began taking data on a telescope in Chile to explore the nature of dark energy. Using the largest optical survey power in the world, the Dark Energy Survey will map about one-tenth of the sky and carry out the largest galaxy survey to date.

The CDMS experiment looks for particles of dark matter using a germanium-crystal detector in a mine in Minnesota, while COUPP uses an underground bubble chamber in Canada's SNOLAB. Both experiments have set stringent constraints on the properties of the proposed dark matter particles, and scientists have built larger detectors for both experiments. Pioneering Fermilab R&D will develop critical zero-background technology for future dark-matter detectors.

Physicists of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics conduct R&D for future experiments. The construction of the Holographic Interferometer, or Holometer, started in 2012, will allow scientists to test the fabric of the cosmos at the smallest scales.

Last modified: 03/27/2013  |