UHM Physics Department Colloquia

PhD Defense: Building the World's Smallest Neutrino Detector

by Viacheslav Li (UH Physics)

420 (Watanabe Hall)


Watanabe Hall

2505 Correa Road
The goal of this presentation is to describe the creation and testing of the world's smallest anti-neutrino detector, which was built and designed at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, and was deployed at the NIST research nuclear reactor facilities in Maryland during 2014--2016. First we review relevant theoretical aspects of neutrino physics: sources of neutrinos and reactor antineutrinos in particular, and give a comparison between description of neutrino oscillations in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. Second, we focus on the main components of this new-generation detector, the data taking, analysis, and conclusions from the project. The novelty was a very small volume compared to all other neutrino detectors, fast-timing electronics and photodetectors in a very confined 2 liter space --- the idea was to reconstruct the direction of the particles propagating inside the scintillator using information from the first arrival of both Cherenkov and scintillation photons. While the project did not succeed in detecting neutrinos in this first outing, many important lessons were gained which we take to the new generation NuLat instrument under construction at present.