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Neutrino Detectors

Prepared by:
Carmela Ariane D. Aliazas
BS Chemistry 321
• Neutrino detectors are typically large tanks filled with a
fluid that reacts to the passage of neutrinos.
• To take advantage of the high flux of neutrinos passing
through the Earth (billions per second), neutrino
detectors are made as large as possible. Neutrinos are
weakly interactive with other particles of matter.
• The larger the detector, the more neutrinos can be
measured in a reasonable amount of time.
• Neutrino detectors are often built underground to isolate
the detector from cosmic rays and other background
• The field of neutrino astronomy is still very much in its
infancy – the only confirmed extraterrestrial sources so
far are the Sun and supernova SN1987A.
First Neutrino Observation
• The first experimental observation of the
neutrino interacting with matter was made
by Frederick Reines, Clyde Cowan, Jr,
and collaborators in 1956 at the Savannah
River Plant in South Carolina. Their
neutrino source was a nuclear reactor.
• Early neutrino detectors were filled with
perchloroethane (a type of cleaning fluid
containing chlorine).
• A portion of the chlorine is isotope 37 (17
protons and 20 neutrons), which can react with
neutrinos to produce Argon-37 (18 protons and
19 neutrons). The amount of Argon-37 created
is then used to measure the neutrino flux.
• Another fluid used for neutrino detection is
water. Neutrino interactions in water produce the
Cherenkov effect.
GALLEX detector
• a radiochemical neutrino detection experiment
that ran between 1991 and 1997 at the
Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS).
• uses Gallium in 30 tons of Gallium trichloride to
detect neutrinos. It is buried far below a
mountain in Italy.
• It was designed to detect solar neutrinos and
prove theories related to the Sun's energy
creation mechanism.
Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
• uses 1000 tons of ``heavy
water'' buried far below ground
outside of Sudbury, Ontario
(Canada) to detect solar
• Heavy water uses the deuterium
isotope of hydrogen instead of
the ordinary isotope of hydrogen
in the water molecule (H2O).
Deuterium has 1 proton+1
neutron in its nucleus instead of
just the 1 proton of ordinary
• The extra neutron makes
deuterium twice as massive as
ordinary hydrogen, so the
``heavy water'' molecule is about
10% heavier than ordinary
Kamiokande experiment
• Located in Japan uses 3000 metric tons of
pure water to detect neutrinos.
• It started in July 1983 to explain the stability of
protons and bound neutrons. The detector was
upgraded to detect low energy neutrino events.
• This detector was the first one that could
determine the direction neutrinos were coming
• It also detected the neutrino burst from the
supernova explosion SN1987A that was
discovered in a companion galaxy to our Milky
Way galaxy.
• To detect charged particles, the KAMIOKANDE
detector utilizes Cherenkov radiation in the
• Cherenkov radiation is generated when a
charged particle pass through the matter with
velocity greater than that of light in the matter.
• Cherenkov photon is detected by the 20"PMT
which is attached inside of the water tank. Awing
to a total of 2140 t of water, KAMIOKANDE can
detect rare events such as a nucleon decay and
a neutrino event.
Super-Kamiokande experiment
• Super-Kamiokande is
a large, underground,
water Cherenkov
detector located in an
active zinc mine in the
Japanese Alps. The
experiment began
data taking in April
• Large volume water detectors were invented to
discover proton decay, but so far have only set
• As Super-K is 6-10 times larger than the
previous generation of detectors, it can reach a
proton lifetime of 10**34 years, probing
predictions of modern Grand Unified Theories.
• Among the possible decay modes are very
interesting signatures, such as p -> neutrino K+,
which would provide evidence for mediation by
the supersymmetric particles.
• Another hint for massive neutrinos is found in
the apparent deficit of solar neutrinos, as
recorded by several experiments of diverse
• Super-K records about 4000 solar neutrino
events per year, approximately 50% of the
number expected by the Standard Solar Model.
• The rate of these low energy neutrinos is
constantly monitored, to be on the lookout for a
sudden burst of events from a distant, but dying
• The Super-K detector would record 4,000
supernova neutrino interactions from a
supernova in the center of our galaxy.
Detector Types
• Water Cerenkov Detector
• Liquid Argon Detector
• Iron Calorimeter
• Emulsion Detector
Water Cerenkov Detector
Highly purified water is used as the detecting
element. High energy charged particles passing through
the water produce Cerenkov light which is detected by
Photo Multiplier Tubes (PMTs) surrounding the water.
Based on the patter of Cerenkov light emission, these
detectors can identify both electrons/positrons and
muons/antimuons. Energy reconstruction of very high
energy (Eº ¸ 5 GeV) is difficult because of a large
number of particles in the hadron shower produced in
the deep inelastic scattering, many of which will be
below their Cerenkov threshold. There is no magnetic
field with these detectors and hence the charge of a
particle can not be identified
Liquid Argon Detector
Liquid Argon is used as the detecting
medium. The tracks produced by charged
particles are identified in the liquid and
based on the pattern of tracks the particle
is identified. The detector has good
calorimetry along with excellent particle
identification capability. There is no
magnetic field hence it is not possible to
distinguish between particles and
corresponding anti-particles.
Iron Calorimeter
• Iron Calorimeters consist of iron (steel)
modules interspersed with sensitive
elements in which charged particles
deposit energy. These detectors can not
be used to detect electron-type neutrinos
and hence are capable of observing only
ºμ and ¯ºμ. A magnetic field, however, can
be added, in which case distinction
between the produced μ− and μ+ is
Emulsion Detector
In this detector emulsion films (50 μm
thick) are employed to observe the
trajectories of τ and its decay products.
These films are interleavened with 1 mm
thick lead plates to provide a large (1.8
ktons) target mass. In addition to the
emulsion films, the detector also contains
a magnetic spectrometer which measures
the charge and the momentum of muons
going through it.