Small Particles, Big Project Empowering Search for Universal Answers
Small Particles, Big Project Empowering Search for Universal Answers
...
Share
Share
Small Particles, Big Project Empowering Search for Universal Answers
1 minute read

An integrated team created a durable and efficient building envelope outfitted with reliable systems and remote site services. The Fermilab facility — the NOvA Far Detector Building — supports the examination of how neutrinos behave.

By blasting a beam of 100 trillion neutrinos per second through the Earth's crust from Fermilab near Chicago, physicists aim to fill an informational void opened more than 13 billion years ago.

Now they have a new resource to focus their efforts: a 41,000-square-foot concrete box filled with sensitive scientific equipment in Minnesota, near the Canadian border.

The NOvA Far Detector Building, designed by Burns & McDonnell, accommodates equipment and operations for a Fermilab collaboration of 208 scientists and engineers from 38 institutions examining how neutrinos — subatomic particles with virtually no mass — have been behaving and interacting since time began.

The building encloses a detector that is 50 feet tall, 50 feet wide and 200 feet long, ranking as one of the world's largest freestanding plastic structures. The detector is a collection of PVC tubes filled with 2.7 million gallons of scintillator, a fluid that flashes when a neutrino collides with an atom, something that occurs only a few times each day.

Burns & McDonnell and its project manager, Jack Steenken, led an integrated team in creating a durable and efficient building envelope outfitted with reliable systems and remote site services, says Steven Dixon, project manager for Fermilab. Chicago-based team members from Fermilab and Burns & McDonnell worked together closely on the building project, which was delivered on time and within budget.

Now two years after construction of the detector began and about a year since the first events were recorded, Fermilab's high-powered search for knowledge — looking at how neutrinos might illuminate the relationship between matter and antimatter and, therefore, the origin of the universe — is on.

"(It's) an important part of the worldwide particle-physics program," says Nigel Lockyer, Fermilab director. "We're proud of the NOvA team for completing the construction of this world-class experiment, and we're looking forward to seeing the first results in 2015."

For more information, contact Jack Steenken, 630-724-3231.


What is a neutrino?

A neutrino is a neutral subatomic particle that is nearly a million times lighter than an electron. Neutrinos come in three types, or flavors, and rarely interact with other particles: A trillion naturally occurring neutrinos from the sun and other celestial objects pass through us each second. Fermilab is studying how neutrinos change flavors.

For more about the NOvA project, visit www-nova.fnal.gov.

You May Be Interested In
Was this article helpful?
You May Be Interested In