NPL News

News from former & current NPL graduate students

Dr. En-Chuan Huang, who received his Ph.D from UIUC in 2016 on the Daya Bay Neutrino Oscillation Experiment, gave an invited talk at the Neutrino 2018 Conference announcing the observation of low-energy excess at a 4.8 standard deviation from his analysis of the MiniBooNE data. This result was one of the highlights at Neutrino 2018 Conference. En-Chuan was then invited to give a “Wine and Cheese” seminar at Fermilab in July 2018. This is the second time that he was invited to give the prestigious Fermilab “Wine and Cheese” seminar during a period of two years. The first one was on his Ph.D work on the Daya Bay experiment. En-Chuan is currently a postdoc at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Pinghan Chu, who received his Ph.D from UIUC in 2012 on the “Dressed-Spin” effect for the neutron EDM experiment, was recently promoted to the position of Staff Member at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Chu recently received the Los Alamos LDRD support for his new proposal to search for Axion, one of the leading candidates for the Dark Matter which remains to be discovered. Dr. Evan McCllelan, who received his Ph.D degree from UIUC in 2016 on the Fermilab SeaQuest experiment, recently gave an invited talk at the Photonuclear Gordon Research Conference reporting the latest results from the MARATHON experiment. He is currently a postdoc at the Jefferson Laboratory. Ms Shivangi Prasad, a current UIUC graduate student, also presented an invited talk at this Conference on the latest result from the SeaQuest experiment.
Author: Professor Jen-Chieh Peng
Published on 11/12/2018

Pioneer in calculations of few-to-many-body systems passes

Steven C. Pieper, a pioneer in calculations of few-to-many-body systems, passed away last week.  Dr. Pieper received his Ph.D. in nuclear theory from UIUC in 1970 after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester.  After a post-doctoral fellowship at Case Western, he moved to Argonne where he worked for over 50 years.  In the early 1980s he began a collaboration with Vijay Pandharipande and Bob Wiringa—the Urbana-Argonne collaboration—undertaking nothing less than detailed, first principles structural calculations of the largest nuclei possible—now heading up into the oxygen region.  This required making advantageous use of the high performance computing resources available at Argonne and elsewhere, Dr. Pieper’s long-time forte, work that continues to this day.  Among many contributions, these calculations helped us to understand the neutron halo nuclei helium-6 and helium-8 and is currently being applied to calculate electromagnetic and weak interaction responses necessary to interpret measurements in the search for sterile neutrinos. Bob and Steve shared the 2010 APS DNP Bonner Memorial prize for this work.
Author: NPL News
Published on 10/16/2018

Early Accelerator Builders at the University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has had a distinguished record in developing accelerators for both nuclear/particle physics experiments as well as for the many applications thereof outside of subatomic physics per-se.  Donald Kerst built the world’s first betatron here in 1941, but, 5 years earlier Gerald Kruger and his students built the world’s third cyclotron and the first outside of Berkeley.  The Department’s historian, Celia Elliott, has put together a terrific article from the archives outlining these developments and the people who made them possible.
Author: Celia Elliott
Published on 9/6/2018

CCD, LSI and CC Funding Outlook

Last week the nEDM collaboration met in Washington with our review committee and representatives of the NSF and DOE to assess the status of our experiment following the “Critical Component Demonstration” (CCD) phase of development.  The next phases of the experiment will involve both building up the subsystems from the components we have prototyped in CCD, called “Large Subsystem Integration” (LSI), as well as procurement of the “Conventional Components” (CC), such as the experimental hall, the neutron beamline, the magnetic shield and the cryogenic plant, needed for the operation of the experiment.  We received a strong, positive response from the review committee with encouragement to try to complete the fabrication as soon as possible.  We have now been funded by both agencies for the coming years; in particular, NSF is putting the finishing touches on support of our helium-3 services subsystem (Illinois) and the magnetic systems (Caltech).  In total, NSF will provide $7.7M ($4.4M to Illinois) over the next 5 years to complete these two subsystems, including the magnetic shield.  The total NSF equipment support for these two subsystems, including CCD, LSI and CC totals over $13M, significantly in excess of the $11M we agreed on at the outset of the project.  We are very grateful to NSF for their increased contribution.  Congratulations to everyone in the collaboration, and, in particular, to everyone in Urbana who helped make this possible: grad students Tom Rao, Sarvagya Sharma and Blake Erickson together with numerous undergrads, technicians John Blackburn, Lucas Hsu, Peter Sobel and Eric Thorsland, and, of course, our subsystem manager, Steve Williamson.
Published on 8/20/2018

Nuclear Physics Lab Update

The sPHENIX calorimeter is planned to be a high density tungsten-scintillating fiber design. The UIUC project molds the scintilating fibers into a tungsten epoxy block. The calorimeter will have more than 6 thousand of these blocks in which U of I students have been busy assembling the fiber arrays.  Each array has 2558 fibers located in brass screens, these are carefully filled by hand and then inspected for quality before being cast into the block. The design also has high uniformity and the potential to be projective in two dimensions, both η and φ (2D).  Each block will be fabricated into a large calorimeter detector for installation at Brookhaven National Lab. Visiting Physicist Weijun Yao from Harvard University is working on the Dilution Refrigerator insert for the Helium 3 services part of the nEDM experiment that will be constructed at Oak Ridge National Lab.  When complete, the refrigerator will be capable of temperatures near absolute zero and will provide the cooling power for a liquid Helium 3 polarized target. The NPL staff have been fabricating parts and constructing the unit on site. (pictures from middle 4, 5, 6)
Author: NPL News
Published on 4/20/2018

NSF News

On Nov. 8 we submitted our main grant proposal to NSF.  This grant, that has been continuously funded since the time of Donald Kerst and the first betatron in the early 1940s supports the work of everyone in our group including faculty, staff, postdocs and students.  Because of the size of our request, there will be a site visit by a group of our peers supplemented by one or two people from the Nuclear Physics program office at NSF.  This time it will be on Thu. and Fri., Feb. 1 and 2, 2018.  We look forward to having everyone contribute and pledge to represent you as well as we possibly can.
Author: NPL
Published on 11/15/2017

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:
NPL award:
Author: NPL
Published on 10/13/2017

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 0νββ 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.  
Author: NPL
Published on 8/7/2017

Young Scholars Program: local youth get hands-on with leading-edge research

The most intriguing and relevant science happens at the highest levels of scientific pursuit—at major research universities and laboratories, far above and beyond typical high-school science curriculum. But this summer, 12 rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors—eight from Centennial and four from Central High School, both in Champaign—had the rare opportunity to partake in cutting-edge scientific research at a leading research institution.   The six-week summer-research Young Scholars Program (YSP) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was initiated by members of the Nuclear Physics Laboratory (NPL) group, who soon joined forces with other faculty members in the Department of Physics and with faculty members of the POETS Engineering Research Center.
Published on 8/4/2017

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. Perdekamp’s group was given the outstanding mentor award based on input from the students.
Author: NPL
Published on 8/3/2017