CERN Accelerating science

DUNE collaboration meeting at CERN

by Albert De Roeck

Dune Collaboration Week at CERN (Image Credits:CERN)

On 23-26 January this year about 250 members of the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) collaboration met at CERN to discuss the status and plans. This was the first time a general plenary meeting of the experiment was held at CERN. While CERN is certainly accustomed to large collaboration meetings, owing to it being the home of the LHC experiments, this case was more special as many of the DUNE members are not part of the regular CERN user community.  Obviously getting familiar with CERN is becoming a must, given that an important milestone of the project is the construction and future operation of the ProtoDUNE project in the North Hall, scheduled to be completed in 2018 and ready for beam. The DUNE experiment itself will consist of four modules with in total  68,000 tonnes of liquid argon, located 1.5 km underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota, about 1300 km away from the neutrino beam source at Fermilab.

The DUNE collaboration was formed early 2015 and currently counts close to 1000 scientists and engineers from 161 institutes and 30 nations, and is still growing. The meeting at CERN focused on the recent progress of the project and the preparation for the technical proposals for the final detector configuration, which should be ready for review in 2019. In particular the preparation of the TDR covering simulation, reconstruction, calibration, physics analysis preparation and reach will start in earnest mid-2017, and is of particular interest for the EP-NU group at CERN. Several group members are presently already strongly engaged in particular in the simulation and reconstruction challenges, and capacitance is building up to join in addressing the physics sensitivity with the most up to date and optimized tools.

Another point of strong focus during the DUNE collaboration meeting was the discussion on the optimization for the Near Detector (ND), needed for characterizing the neutrino beam close to the source and a crucial component for the oscillation parameter measurement precision. The studies for an optimal choice of the ND configuration are expected to largely converge by the end of 2017, with perhaps 2 or at most 3 options left, to be decided upon in the following year. The EP-NU group intends to contribute and engage in that study.

The eyes of the DUNE collaboration are presently much turned to the activities of the neutrino platform, with the construction of the single and dual phase large prototype liquid argon TPCs. The impressive progress on these projects was explicitly acknowledged by the collaboration and at the end of the DUNE week a visit was organized. About 70 visitors took the opportunity to join the tour of the experimental installations under construction, especially the ProtoDune ones. The EP-NU group is naturally involved in most of the activities related to ProtoDUNE.

Despite the unusually cold weather in the Geneva area that week, the participants enjoyed the warm reception of the CERN team and the efficient organization of the meeting. So much so that they proposed that DUNE will have its 2018 January week again at CERN!