ICARUS neutrino detector arrives at Fermilab

  • One of two trucks hauling the world's largest liquid-argon particle detector makes a turn off Eola Road in Aurora Wednesday as it wends its way to Fermilab in Batavia.

      One of two trucks hauling the world's largest liquid-argon particle detector makes a turn off Eola Road in Aurora Wednesday as it wends its way to Fermilab in Batavia. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/26/2017 9:09 PM

The ICARUS neutrino detector -- the largest liquid-argon particle detector ever built ­-- ended its intercontinental journey Wednesday, rolling through the gates of its new home at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia.

The lab bought the detector from the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. It was first used in 2010 at the Italians' Gran Sasso National Laboratory, recording data from a beam of neutrinos sent by the CERN laboratory in France and Switzerland.

 

It was shipped to CERN in 2014 for upgrades and refurbishment, and began its journey to the U.S. early last month.

It traveled by sea, river and a pair of trucks.

The detector is 60 feet long and weighs 120 tons. It will hold 760 tons of pure liquid argon.

It will be one of three detectors at Fermilab dedicated to searching for a new, fourth type (or "flavor") of neutrino, called the sterile neutrino. One detector has been online for a year, and the second is under construction.

Neutrinos are the most abundant and smallest known particles in our universe, according to scientists at Fermilab. They don't seem to interact much with other subatomic particles.

Scientists studying the other three kinds of neutrinos hope results will show them why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe, which would seem to violate the principle of symmetry.

Last Friday, Fermilab folks celebrated as ground was broken on a new experiment, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. Construction will start first at the detector site in South Dakota. Construction at Fermilab, which will shoot the beams of neutrinos to the detector, may start next year.

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