SNO+

Group Leaders:

Some of the most exciting physics to emerge over the last decade has been in the field of neutrino physics. One of the forefront experiments here has been the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), based in Canada. The SNO group at Oxford have played a leading role in solving the "Solar Neutrino Problem" and clearly demonstrating, for the first time, that neutrinos exists as mixed states which allow them to apparently "oscillate" from one type to another. SNO stopped taking data in November 2006, though further analysis will continue for a couple more years. However, on the heels of this tremendously successful project, a follow-on experiment is being pursued with a remarkably diverse and interesting range of physics objectives. SNO+ will use a modified version of the instrument to 1) measure other fundamental solar neutrino processes (thereby also investigating details of neutrino-matter couplings); 2) search for non-standard modes of nucleon decay; 3) study neutrinos generated from within the earth; 4) act as an excellent detector for neutrinos from galactic supernovae; and 5) search for a very rare process called "neutrinoless double beta decay." An observation of the latter would both permit a determination of the absolute neutrino masses and would establish that neutrinos act as their own antiparticles, which could have consequences for our understanding of the matter/antimatter asymmetry in the universe. This area of study is considered to be of extremely high importance in particle physics and would constitute a primary focus for the experiment. The project is anticipated to have a rapid timescale, with first data to be taken in 2012. More information can be found here