NPL News

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

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.
Author: NPL
Published on 7/18/2017

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.
Author: NPL
Published on 5/25/2017