Winter 2013/14

In the Works, the Future’s Massive Neutrino Detector

The Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment

40% protoype of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment Anode Plane Array (APA).

Some of the world’s top physicists are coming together to help create a giant neutrino detector.  A high-intensity neutrino beam will project 800 miles from Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois to the detector located in a mine. The mine, which is no longer in operation is located in Lead, South Dakota and houses the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF).  The project is expected to be ready for operation in 2022. 

Originally, PSL was working with collaborators on a neutrino detector that was to take place at the same mine and was called the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). It was to include a vast amount of experiments at one facility, but with budgets getting tighter, revisions were made and the large scale underground laboratory was scaled down.  When the gears changed the focus was taken off the DUSEL project and shifted to the LBNE (Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment).

The change was drastic, but PSL stayed involved with their ability to change focus, re-think the project and adapt to the science. This ability helps science move forward, instead of making science adapt to the engineering needs. Lee Greenler is the lead engineer for the PSL portion of the project. He along with a group of PSL engineers and draftsmen are designing what will be the heart of the detector, the Anode Plane Array (APA). These frames have already been produced and tested as a prototype at 40% of the full size.

Engineer Greenler explains, “The heart of the LBNE liquid argon detector is the Anode Plane Array - usually called the APA.  In the final detector these frames will measure about 7 meters tall by 2.5 meters wide by 100 milimeters thick.  There could be as many as 120 of these APA's in the detector.  Each APA will have 4 layers of fine copper wire wound on each side. The wires are wound with about 1 pound of tension and there are between 500 and 1000 of these wires in each layer - so the frame of the APA has to be very strong.”

A detailed picture of the copper wire wound around the APA.

PSL will also be building APA frames that will be 20% of the full size to continue testing. The smaller frames make the task more manageable for testing. Mr. Greenler continues to explain, “Over the coming year or two we will develop the process and equipment for winding the wires on a full size frame. A frame of that size has some natural flex as it is rotated; as we develop equipment that can handle a full size frame we must also develop a process that is not adversely affected by this flex. The cross tubes of the frame have ends that are carefully machined to match the curved edges of the tubing where they join the sides.The frame will be filled with argon gas before the joints are welded to prevent oxidation of the stainless steel on the inside of the tubes.”

One of the small APA frames, awaiting assembly.
 

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