University of Wisconsin-Madison Physical Sciences Lab

Large Research Programs

Shot Hole Drill Antarctic Glaciological Research

As part of the International Polar Year, researchers are studying the vulnerability of the Thwaites Glacier region of the West Antarctic ice sheet to sea level rise and a warming climate.


CUORE is intended to improve measurements of mass of the electron neutrino well beyond current bounds. PSL has been charged with building the detector calibration system units, which lower and raise 12 strings of weakly radioactive calibration sources through bent guide tubes.

Daya Bay Tank Daya Bay

The Daya Bay Reactor Project is a neutrino-oscillation experiment that will use anti-neutrinos produced by two large nuclear power plants located along the coast of China near Hong Kong.

Haleakala Gamma Ray telescope photo Gamma Ray Astronomy

In the 1980s, PSL collaborated with the Haleakala Observatory on Maui to build a telescope to detect gamma rays. In 1994 PSL built a similar telescope which was installed at the South Pole.

HSX photo HSX Helically Symmetric Toroidal Experiment

The HSX project was a new concept in fusion reactors that combines the best features of stellarator and tokamak plasma technology. The key to HSX is its unique helical toroidal shape.

Hubble Space Telescope drawing Hubble Space Telescope

The simplest of the five original scientific instruments on board the Hubble Space Telescope, the High Speed Photometer had no moving parts. Its five detectors measured the brightness of celestial objects in several different spectral bands in the ultraviolet, as well as their brightnesses in visible wavelengths.

IceCube DOM IceCube

The IceCube project is a neutrino observatory at the South Pole. The project called for the design and construction of over 4,000 Digital Optical Modules(DOM) to be placed at depths of up to 2,400 meters below the surface of the ice.

Compact Muon Solenoid LHC Compact Muon Solenoid

LHC is a particle physics project, where scientists hope to shed more light on the fundamental nature of matter. PSL was responsible for design, integration, supervision, assembly, and installation of the two endcaps for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS).

Madison Symmetric Torrus Madison Symmetric Torus (MST)

The Madison Symmetric Torus (MST) is a research device used to study the interactions between magnetic fields and plasmas. The goals are to help develop a fusion energy source and to understand astrophysical magnetic field and plasmas.

NIST SURF3 photo NIST SURF3 Accelerator

PSL was heavily involved in the design of the upgrade to the NIST electron storage ring SURF. The ring is a synchrotron light source for research and the calibration of far ultraviolet instruments.

Tomotherapy Tomotherapy

The intrepid idea was to be more accurate and more effective with radiation treatment by combining intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with computed tomography (CT); thus, pinpoint accuracy and realtime delivery of radiation. It would revolutionize the way cancer is treated.

photo of WHAM telescope WHAM

In 1995 PSL built the WHAM telescope for the UW-Madison Space Physics Program. The telescope is designed to map the density and motion of ionized hydrogen in the galaxy.


WUPPE is the Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment, designed to acquire simultaneous spectral and polarization data in the 1400 to 3300 Angstrom spectral range, requiring operation in space. (Space Shuttle Payload)

photo of Xray Microbeam beamline X-Ray Microbeam

One of only two machines in the world of its type ever created, the microbeam analyzes speech patterns by tracking small pellets placed on the subject’s tongue, teeth and nose.