Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neutron physics instrument may unlock mysteries of universe

17.09.2004


Fundamental questions that particle physicists have pondered for decades might be answered when a $9.2 million neutron physics beam line is built at the Department of Energy’s Spallation Neutron Source on Chestnut Ridge.



At the core of physicists’ excitement is the fact that the SNS will produce up to 100 times more neutrons than are produced by any comparable source in the world. Tapping in to those neutrons will be the Fundamental Neutron Physics beam line, which will help physicists exploit neutrons to learn more about the Big Bang, left-right symmetry of the universe and the amount of energy produced in the sun. Recently, the beam line project passed a milestone with the approval of the performance baseline -- known as Critical Decision 2.

"This is, in a sense, the formal definition of the scope of the project and represents a detailed agreement between DOE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as to what will be built, when it will be built, how much it will cost and how the project will be managed," said Geoff Greene, a professor at the University of Tennessee and researcher in the Physics Division at ORNL.


Greene noted that much work lies ahead, but the benefits of having extremely intense beams of neutrons at their disposal should be phenomenal. "To scientists studying materials -- the main focus of SNS research -- the neutron is merely a tool that helps them probe the structure of condensed matter," Greene said. "But to particle physicists, the neutron holds the key to understanding many of the mysteries of the universe."

The fact physicists will have many more neutrons available to them greatly increases the accuracy of their experiments, one of which is aimed at pinpointing the lifetime of a free neutron. Obtaining a precise answer could help physicists better understand the origin of matter and may help explain the "left-handedness" of the universe at the subatomic level.

A system is said to be "handed," Greene said, when its mirror image differs from its appearance looking at it directly. For example, a sphere is not handed, but a corkscrew is because its image in a mirror is reversed. The sphere viewed in a mirror looks the same.

Greene and others have long been puzzled by the fact that, in an otherwise symmetric universe, radioactivity viewed at the elementary particle level is left-handed. In the world of physics, the phenomenon is known as parity violation. "So, is the left-handedness of the universe just an accident, a ‘broken symmetry,’ or is it a manifestation of a fundamental characteristic of the cosmos?" Greene asked.

Indeed, to have an instrument like the Fundamental Neutron Physics beam line has been the dream of physicists for years, said Greene, who noted that 65 participants from 20 institutions participated in an organizational meeting of the development team at ORNL in 2001.

Greene led the proposal team, which was made up of Vince Cianciolo of ORNL, David Bowman and Martin Cooper of Los Alamos National Laboratory, John Doyle of Harvard University, Christopher Gould of North Carolina State University, Paul Huffman of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Mike Snow of Indiana University.

The beam line will consist of neutron guides, choppers, secondary shutters and shielding, along with the necessary utilities and safety and radiation protection equipment. The facility will be capable of accommodating a wide variety of experiments, each of which typically takes years to develop and occupies the beam line continuously for many months.

The Fundamental Neutron Physics beam line will be operated as a user facility with all beam time allocated on the basis of independent peer reviews, Greene said. The beam line should be commissioned in mid-2008, about two years after the $1.4 billion SNS comes on line.

Funding for the project is being provided by DOE’s Office of Nuclear Physics within the Office of Science. ORNL, which is managed by UT-Battelle, employs 1,500 scientists and engineers and is DOE’s largest multipurpose science and energy laboratory.

Ron Walli | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ornl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>