NPL News Now

October 13, 2017
NPL COMPASS Group Awarded Blue Waters Resource Allocation

The NPL COMPASS group was awarded an approximately 10 million node-hour Petascale Computing Resource Allocation (PRAC) on Blue Waters. The allocation allows the "Mapping of Proton Quark Structure using Petabytes of COMPASS Data". Over two years, experimental data of the years 2015 through 2018 will be processed (calibrated, aligned, and "tracked") and Monte-Carlo data will be simulated at quantities that will keep systematic uncertainties of the physics observables at the minimum level possible. Due to the parallel processing features of Blue Waters, data production is significantly faster than at all other computing farms available to us and collaborators.

The COMPASS experiment located in the North Area of CERN, Switzerland/France, studies the 3D structure of the proton. Tomographic pictures of the proton can be obtained by impinging a high-energetic beam of charged particles onto a fixed target containing protons. Drell-Yan "pion-proton" scattering employing a transversely polarized proton target yields proton slices in quark transverse momentum (2015 and 2018 data), while Deeply Virtual "muon-proton" Compton Scattering using a polarized muon beam results in information about the "impact parameter" of quarks inside the proton (2016 and 2017 data).

COMPASS collects an annual raw dataset of about 1 petabyte. Together with reduced mini-Data Summary Trees (mDSTs) and the simulated data, four years of data will amount to about 10 petabyte. Exploratory studies on COMPASS data transfer and production on Blue Waters were successfully completed in 2016 by Vincent Andrieux, Robert Heitz, Marco Meyer, Matthias Perdekamp and Caroline Riedl.

Announcement of the 3 PRAC 2017 awards: http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/news/story/nsf_grants_14_researchers_time_on_blue_waters_supercomputer
NPL award:
https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1713684&HistoricalAwards=false

August 7, 2017
EXO-200 Phase-II Results Announced

The new neutrinoless double beta decay search results from EXO-200 was announced at the TAUP meeting after one year of Phase-II operation. In Phase-II, the detector energy resolution at the decay energy region is improved to 1.23%. External radon background between the cryostat and lead shield has been suppressed with radon free air. In addition, new analysis techniques for discriminating the gamma background has been implemented. Incorporating both hardware and software upgrades, the combined sensitivity for Phase-I and Phase-II data improved 2-fold to 3.7 x 10^25 years. No statistically significant signal was observed, leading to a lower limit on the 0v▀▀ half-life of 1.8 x 10^25 yr at the 90% confidence level. The UIUC group led the front end electronics upgrade for Phase-II and contributed substantially to the analysis. Graduate student Shaolei Li studied the wire gain calibration and checked the grid correction for Phase-II. Graduate student Matthew Coon presented the new results at the 2017 Meeting of APD Division of Particle & Fields.

August 3, 2017
Young Scholars Program

A Poster Symposium concluded the inaugural Young Scholars program for high school students from underrepresented groups. The program, led by NPL, was sponsored by us together with the Department of Physics and the POETS Engineering Research Center of the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. About 60 people joined the 12 Young Scholars as they presented their work in a poster session held on Jul. 28 in the Loomis lobby. The projects ranged from biophysics, to high energy physics to nanomaterials. At the awards ceremony following the poster presentations, mentor Joseph Bryant, an undergrad in Prof. Perdekampĺs group was given the outstanding mentor award based on input from the students.

July 18, 2017
Semi-Annual nEDM Review

On Tue. Jul. 14 the neutron EDM experiment presented its responses to a request to revisit plans for the upcoming subsystem integration phase of the experiment. With some re-engineering, we were able to show an expected cost savings of about $4M in the roughly $25M remaining expenditures required to bring the experiment into operation. The technical changes involve a significant simplification in the mounting and shielding required for the helium-3 services system that is the Illinois responsibility. The review committee responded positively to the changes that they agreed both reduced costs and improved the experiment. The next review will be in December and will assess progress for the entire Critical Component Demonstration phase of the experiment that concludes this calendar year.

May 25, 2017
phYSics Young Scholars program to begin summer of 2017

The phYSics Young Scholars program will welcome 10 rising junior and senior high school students from the local area to examine, explore and consider exciting careers in scientific research. The 6 week summer program will give hands on experience to help students better fathom how we ask and answer questions in science. Young Scholars will be embedded in cutting-edge research laboratories at the Physics Department within the College of Engineering. They will be introduced to a variety of live experiments and scientific research as well as the ability to gain an understanding of science and its local and global impact. Young Scholars will have opportunities to build relationships with college students, professors, and other high school students. Visit the phYSics Young Scholars page for more information.