NPL News Now

March 16, 2017
4th year of CCD funding approved for nEDM project

On Mar. 15 we received word from NSF that the final year of funding for the Critical Component Demonstration phase of the neutron electric dipole moment experiment (nEDM) is approved for release. The Illinois group (Beck, Peng, Williamson, Koivuniemi, Thorsland, Blackburn, Sobel, Rao, Sharma) is responsible for the so-called helium-3 services subsystem of the experiment. These funds will allow us to complete the dilution refrigerator, under construction at NPL, and used to cool the subsystem, as well as to make progress on components of both its injection and purification assemblies. The NSF also re-stated its commitment to provide $5.8M for the Large Subsystem Integration activities to follow the CCD phase of the experiment and to be shared between Illinois and Caltech.

February 21, 2017
Testing cryogenic electronics for nEXO

As a next-generation tonne scale double beta decay experiment, nEXO requires new development in detector technology. One key area is the development of low noise front-end electronics that can operate directly in liquid xenon (~170 K). In collaboration with the Brookhaven National Lab, students Shaolei Li and Xuanying Li are testing the performance of prototype boards built with custom ASICs. In the coming weeks, they will develop codes to readout all channels of the board and analyze the noise correlation between different channels. The board will later be used in liquid xenon test setups by the collaboration.

February 17, 2017
Caroline Riedl as next Technical Coordinator of the COMPASS experiment at CERN

Caroline Riedl was elected by the COMPASS collaboration board as next Technical Coordinator of the COMPASS experiment at CERN. Her term will start in July 2017. It will cover the no-beam period of "change-over" in fall / winter 2017/2018 during that the experiment's target region will be entirely modified to prepare for the second COMPASS Drell-Yan run in 2018 with a negatively charged pion beam: a transversely polarized ammonia target employing dynamic nuclear polarization, and a hadron absorber to stop all particles except for muons. In 2017, COMPASS is running with negatively or positively charged polarized muon beams and an unpolarized long liquid hydrogen target.

February 17, 2017
Caroline Riedl awarded Blue-Waters Campus Allocation for COMPASS data production

On November 27, 2016, Caroline Riedl was awarded an Illinois Blue Waters allocation for the duration of one year and 200,000 node hours to continue the evaluation of COMPASS data production on the Blue-Waters supercomputer. The UIUC team consisting of PI Riedl, postdoctoral researcher Vincent Andrieux, graduate students Marco Meyer and Robert Heitz, and Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp together with collaborators from other COMPASS institutions launch mass productions of COMPASS experimental and simulated data on Blue Waters. Per year of data taking, the COMPASS experiment at CERN accumulates more than 2.5 petabytes of experimental and simulated data. In a previous exploratory phase on Blue Waters in 2016, Dr. Riedl and her UIUC team had successfully tested data transfers between CERN and Blue Waters and mass productions on Blue Waters and had demonstrated that Blue Waters can significantly speed up (in the case of experimental data "tracking") and improve (in the case of simulated Monte-Carlo data) COMPASS data production.

February 16, 2017
Professor Yang Awarded NSF Career Award

We are excited to announce that Prof. Liang Yang has been awarded an NSF Career Award for the period 2017-2021 in the amount of $750k. This is a very competitive NSF-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.” Prof. Yang will use the support primarily for work associated with EXO-200, the ground-breaking Xe-136 neutrinoless double beta decay experiment for which he serves as co-spokesperson. The focus will be on data-taking and analysis over the next few years as the collaboration works to improve, in particular, the energy resolution of the experiment. In addition to providing one of the most stringent constraints on the existence of so-called Majorana neutrinos (neutrino is its own anti-particle), EXO-200 also serves as a test bed for a possible tonne-scale experiment currently being planned by the community. Congratulations Liang!

January 26, 2017
New Arrivals at NPL

Over the past week, we have taken delivery of two precious shipments with materials from opposite ends of the periodic table. About 200 standard liters of helium-3, valued at something like $200k, arrived on loan from ORNL. It will be used for the nEDM dilution refrigerator and will enable us to reach temperatures of about 0.25 K above absolute zero with the relatively high cooling power of 75 mW. The 3He is used because when it evaporates from a mixture with ordinary helium, it cools the remaining liquid. We also received the first half of a shipment of about half a ton of tungsten powder for the next round of prototypes for the sPHENIX calorimeter. Tungsten, a dense metal, is used because it can stop particles, especially photons, in relatively short distances. The powder will be combined with scintillating fibers to construct the 96 elements of a single ‘module’ for the full detector. Both the dilution refrigerator and the calorimeter prototype will be built and tested at NPL in the coming few months.

January 9, 2017
Liquid Radiator Calorimeter Prototype Test for ATLAS at the CERN SPS

Two modules of a novel liquid radiator calorimeter were tested successfully using 30 and 150 A*GeV Pb-nuclei test beams at the Super Proton Synchrotron at CERN during the first two weeks of December. Liquid radiator calorimeters can be operated under very high radiation doses and NPL aims to develop technology for a new radiation hard Zero Degree Calorimeter for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. The prototype modules use a two-step wavelength shifter system for light transport and Silicon Photomultipiers (SiPMs) for readout.
The prototypes were tested for their energy response and its dependence on the the impact position of the Pb-beam. The calorimeter prototypes were designed and built at NPL by graduate student Mike Phipps, undergraduate students Chad Lantz, Daniel Li, Anthony Oh, Aymen Shamoon, Joseph Bryant, technician John Blackburn and senior research engineer Eric Thorsland. Detector assembly at CERN and setup of beam instrumentation and the readout was carried out by Eric Thorsland and graduate students Mike Phipps and Yakov Kulinich and postdoctoral researcher Vincent Andrieux. The test beam data taking with the UIUC-NPL group was joined by Bian Cole from Columbia University, Peter Steinberg of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Zvi Citron from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Tel Aviv.

January 9, 2017
Successful ATLAS Heavy Ion Run

During a four week period in November and December ATLAS successfully took proton-lead collisions at 5 and 8 TeV collision energies. Extraordinary work was done by postdoc Martin Rybar who is the ATLAS Heavy Ion Trigger Co-coordinator and oversaw the allocations and monitoring of the 1500 triggers available for use in heavy ion collisions throughout the run. Graduate students Akshat Puri and Virginia Bailey were present during the run to validate the data and its reconstruction. This data will be analyzed for years to come. The next ATLAS heavy ion running will be in 2018 with lead-lead collisions.

January 5, 2017
Dr. En-Chuan Huang receives 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award

Dr. En-Chuan Huang, a former NPL graduate student, is the recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award sponsored by the OCPA (International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers). Click here for link to article.