U.S. Department of Energy renews Virginia Tech funding for investigating neutrinos
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has renewed funding for Virginia Tech Department of Physics Professor Jonathan Link’s expansive study of neutrino properties, including the creation of a high-tech box that could lead to a new turning point in how the United Nations tracks rogue nations that seek nuclear power.
Funding from the DOE, at $165,000, will support Link’s multiple efforts in studying sub-atomic particles, the standard model of particle physics. His efforts include participating in the Chinese-based Daya Bay reactor neutrino experiment, where scientists are continuing the study of neutrino mixing. Link and other Virginia Tech researchers involved the Center for Neutrino Physics at Virginia Tech are supporting all aspects of the Daya Bay experiment, by taking shifts, reviewing papers and conducting data analysis.
Link also is part of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee-based COHERENT experiment, the first experiment to observe coherent elastic neutrino nucleus scattering, a process predicted back in 1974, but not observed until 2018. COHERENT is actively taking data with its initial suite of detectors and making plans to build new detectors, including a new heavy water detector that will be used to measure the neutrino flux using charged current scattering on deuterium. Link will be part of this device’s design.
Lastly, the grant will support Link’s efforts to bring the prototype reactor neutrino detector known as MicroCHANDLER to Oak Ridge’s Spallation Neutron Source location. Link says, “The unifying objective of this work is to improve our understanding of neutrinos and how they interact with matter in our everyday world.” MicroCHANDLER -- a high-tech box full of luminescent plastic cubes stacked atop one another that would ideally be placed outside a nuclear reactor – already was part of a months’ long experiment at Dominion Power’s North Anna Nuclear Generating Station near Mineral, Virginia.