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Scientists Conduct Photomultiplier Tube Implosion Tests to Develop Rugged Neutrino Detectors

Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers are conducting a Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) to design rugged neutrino detectors.

Fragile glass photomultiplier tube

The research is being carried out at a Navy facility in Rhode Island where the scientists have set up a trap for photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), which are critical parts of a next-generation neutrino detector.

Numerous PMTs will be used to arrange two large detectors in order to elucidate the performance of neutrinos. The LBNE will transmit a powerful beam of neutrinos from an Illinois-based Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to a mine located in South Dakota.

Construction, design and management of the water Cerenkov detectors are being handled by Brookhaven National Laboratory. Each detector has the capacity to hold approximately 37 million gallons of water. The light, which is generated through interaction between the water molecules and neutrino, is traced by the PMTs in the neutrino detector's walls.

In Japan’s Super-Kamiokande neutrino experiment, an implosion of one defective PMT destroyed over half of its neighbors. To overcome this problem, researchers are working to find out an optimum design solution for the LBNE model through the PMT’s termination.

LBNE’s mechanical engineer, Rahul Sharma stated that if a similar incident occurs at LBNE, then it will take more time and cost to substitute the bulbs, drain the detector and start the experiment again. Through the proposed experiment, the team wants to ensure that if even one tube goes wrong, the remaining bulbs should not get affected.

The researchers are studying two ways to stop a disastrous implosion in the detector. The first choice is to design a rugged PMT glass and the second option is to create PMT enclosures that can absorb or repel the shock wave and safeguard its neighbors.


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