Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory advances the understanding of the fundamental nature of matter and energy by providing leadership and resources for qualified researchers to conduct basic research at the frontiers of high energy physics and related disciplines.
The future research program at Fermilab includes:
Placing detectors at great depth benefits particle physics experiments because layers of earth and rock act as shielding to minimize background noise caused by approaching particles from space. Fermilab researchers have proposed plans to place a large detector in the deep underground laboratory to study neutrinos coming from a beam generated at Fermilab.
One proposed location for the LBNE detector is a proposed Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory in Homestake Gold Mine near Lead, South Dakota. The laboratory could house experiments run by researchers from a wide range of sciences, including particle physics.
Mu2e is an approved experiment that will search for the conversion of a muon into an electron. Researchers have observed quarks converting from one type, or flavor, to another. They have also observed neutrinos oscillating from one flavor to another. This leads them to wonder if members of the charged lepton family, the electron, muon and tau particles, have a similar ability to convert to one another. Such a process, called charged lepton flavor violation, would represent unambiguous evidence of new physics.
In the experiment, researchers will use a novel detector to produce, transport and stop beams of muons in a target to study whether they can convert into electrons.
The Mu2e collaboration presently consists of 109 scientists from 22 institutions.
Project X is a proposed intense proton source that could provide beam for a variety of future physics projects. The proposed accelerator would consist of a superconducting linear accelerator that would inject charged hydrogen atoms into existing parts of the Fermilab accelerator complex, where they would be stripped of their electrons. The remaining protons could be accelerated for use in very long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiments, such as NOvA and DUSEL. Simultaneously, Project X could supply protons to kaon- and muon-based precision experiments. The accelerator would contain superconducting radio frequency components similar in design to those designed for another proposed accelerator, the International Linear Collider.
The NuMI Off-axis ve Appearance experiment, NOvA, will search for evidence of muon-to-electron neutrino oscillation by comparing the composition of the NuMI beamline at the source and in an underground laboratory in Minnesota.
Neutrinos are neutral particles that switch among three flavors: electron, muon and tau. Scientists have observed electron neutrinos from the sun changing to muon and tau neutrinos. They have seen muon neutrinos produced by cosmic rays oscillate to tau neutrinos. With the NOvA experiment, scientists are searching for a third type of neutrino oscillation: muon-to-electron.
Using two detectors, a 222-metric-ton near detector and a 15-metric-kiloton far detector, NOvA will search for evidence that muon neutrinos can change into electron neutrinos during the 500-mile trip. The experiment will examine how many muon neutrinos, vu, leaving the near detector at Fermilab appear as electron neutrinos, ve, at the far detector.
The NOvA collaboration consists of more than 180 scientists and engineers from 28 institutions.
The MicroBooNE experiment will use a 70-ton liquid argon time projection chamber, LArTPC, to examine neutrino beams at Fermilab. The experiment will attempt to answer why the MiniBooNE experiment observed excess events at low energies. MicroBooNE can differentiate between electrons and photons, unlike the MiniBooNE Cherenkov detector. Building the detector will help advance research and development efforts toward massive LArTPCs for long-baseline neutrino and proton-decay experiments.
Researchers looking for a method of cooling muons designed the MICE experiment to test the effectiveness of a technique called ionization cooling. Ionization cooling takes place when muons are sent through an absorber in which they lose momentum via ionization energy loss. They are then reaccelerated in a linear accelerator where their energy is restored only in the forward direction. MICE will use a single particle beam, with not more than one muon passing through the detector about every 10 nanoseconds. The experiment needs to balance the cooling from energy loss with the heating from multiple scattering of the muons.
The Dark Energy Survey, DES, will use a state-of-the-art, wide-field CCD imager and an existing telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to study the nature of dark energy. The DES will measure the density of dark energy and dark matter and study the expansion of the universe by observing galaxy clusters; the distortion of light from distant galaxies, known as weak gravitational lensing; galaxy angular clustering; and supernovae.
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will create a 3-D map of the night sky as a way to better understand how the universe has changed over time. Specifically, scientists can use snapshots of the night sky to precisely measure the rate at which the universe is expanding.
LSST will use a 3-billion pixel digital camera to see more of the universe than all previous telescopes combined. To do that, LSST will rapidly scan the sky, charting objects that change or move. Billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Outstanding mysteries in astronomy and physics will be uniquely addressed. With a thousand-fold increase in capability over current facilities; LSST is likely to make unexpected discoveries.
LSST is currently in its design and development phase. It is scheduled to receive first light four years after construction begins.