How are neutrinos detected in particle collider?

Physicists led by the University of California Irvine (UCI) first detected signs of neutrinos in a particle collider. The experiment was carried out at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where scientists seek to detect signs of dark photons. In 2018, another experiment at the LHC detected a neutrino candidate, but this presented characteristics not predicted by physics and was not confirmed.

Those responsible for neutrinos detection are part of an international collaboration called Forward Search Experiment, led by physicists from the University of UCI. Although neutrinos produced in different natural sources have been found before, neutrino candidates produced in a particle collider had not yet been detected.

In an article published in the journal Physical Review D, the researchers describe how they observed six neutrino interactions during a 2018 implementation of a compact emulsion detector installed at the LHC. The success of the experiment means that the method works and can be used in even more robust studies.

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The upcoming research of neutrinos at the LHC begins in 2022, in a new cycle of color executions over three years. With this, scientists hope to gain a "deeper understanding of these elusive particles and the role they play in the universe," explains Jonathan Feng, a UCI professor and co-author of the study.

Detecting neutrinos

The FRASER particle detector, installed at the LHC, is responsible for finding the neutrino candidates in the experiment (Image: Reproduction/CERN)

The instrument for detecting neutrinos is composed of lead and tungsten plates alternating with emulsion layers. During particle collisions in the LHC, some neutrinos were produced and collided with the nuclei of these two dense metals, creating other particles that travel through the emulsion layers.

These journeys through the emulsion create marks that appear after processing on the computer and work more or less like analog photographs. As these marks are "stamped" on these layers, scientists can map them and discover their characteristics, such as the energies and flavors of particles (tau, mummer electron).

With the success of this experiment, the team intends to expand the research with a new emulsion detector. The new instrument will weigh almost 40 times more than the current one and will be able to differentiate much better between neutrinos varieties.

Producing and detecting neutrinos in the collider is not the ultimate goal of the experiment, but rather to search for possible clues about dark matter. Scientists intend to find signs of dark photons, a hypothetical particle proposed as a force carrier similar to electromagnetism, but connected to dark matter.

If a dark photon is detected, it could provide information about how dark matter interacts with the atoms of baryonic matter (the normal matter of the universe) and other types of particles in the universe through non-gravitational forces.

Source: Physical Review D; Street: University of California Irvine

Lineesh Kumar

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