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Top Story

World’s smallest neutrino detector finds big physics fingerprint

After more than a year of operation at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the COHERENT experiment, using the world’s smallest neutrino detector, has found a big fingerprint of the elusive, electrically neutral particles that interact only weakly with matter. The research provides compelling evidence for a neutrino interaction process predicted by theorists 43 years ago, but never seen. The scientists are the first to detect and characterize coherent elastic scattering of neutrinos off nuclei. Typically, neutrinos interact with individual protons or neutrons inside a nucleus. But in "coherent" scattering, an approaching neutrino "sees" the entire weak charge of the nucleus as a whole and interacts with all of it. That signal is as tough to spot as a bowling ball’s tiny recoil after a ping-pong ball hits it. The team used the High Performance Storage System at ORNL’s Leadership Computing Facility, shown here, to store Big Data from the experiment.

Visit Website | Image credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy; Jason Richards