Engineering Majorana’s shield

Many experiments require equipment or methods that don’t yet exist. In the case of the Majorana Demonstrator (MJD) project, the experiment includes creating electroformed copper parts and designing an intricate multi-layered shield that will protect the experiment from cosmic and terrestrial radiation. This story is the first in a two-part series that focuses on the engineering behind the science of MJD.

In its search for a rare form of radioactive decay, the...

MJD gets high marks after review

In its recent annual review, the Majorana Demonstrator (MJD) received high marks from Department of Energy and National Science Foundation officers and an international review committee.

 “They recognized that we’ve made tremendous progress and are doing very well over all,” said John Wilkerson, principal investigator of MJD and the John R. and Louise S. Parker Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina. “They offered us some constructive criticism...

CASPAR seeks home on the 4850 Level

The quiet of the underground makes Sanford Lab a perfect place for experiments that need to escape cosmic rays. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, Majorana Demonstrator and Center for Ultra-low Background Experiments in the Dakotas (CUBED) all benefit from the low background noise on the 4850L. Soon the Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) experiment will be there as well.


“Into the Dark” art show begins state tour

In 2013, the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) worked with 22 artists to create an art show for Neutrino Day. Artists focused on dark matter, the elusive substance sought by scientists with the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment. “Into the Dark: Artists Exploring Dark Matter” opened to the public on July 13, 2013, at the Lead-Deadwood Art Center. From there it traveled to Pierre for the Statewide Arts Conference, which is sponsored by the South Dakota Arts Council and South Dakotans for the...

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Watch LUX first results: dark matter detector most sensitive in the world

October 1, 2013
LUX researchers spell out the experiment's name, like cheerleaders, inside a 72,000 gallon water tank. The detector is the cylindrical titanium tank behind them. The tank is now filled with water, and the detector is operating.

Watch the prerecorded announcement below.

LEAD, S.D. – After its first run of more than three months, operating a mile underground in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a new experiment named LUX has proven itself the most sensitive dark matter detector in the world.

“LUX is blazing the path to illuminate the nature of dark matter,” says Brown University physicist Rick Gaitskell, co-spokesperson for LUX with physicist Dan McKinsey of Yale University. LUX stands for Large Underground Xenon experiment.

Gaitskell and McKinsey announced the LUX first-run results, on behalf of the collaboration, at a seminar today at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in Lead, S.D. The Sanford Lab is a state-owned facility, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports its operation. The LUX scientific collaboration, which is supported by the National Science Foundation and DOE, includes 17 research universities and national laboratories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Portugal.

Dark matter, so far observed only by its gravitational effects on galaxies and clusters of galaxies, is the predominant form of matter in the universe. Weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs – so-called because they rarely interact with ordinary matter except through gravity – are the leading theoretical candidates for dark matter. The mass of WIMPs is unknown, but theories and results from other experiments suggest a number of possibilities.

LUX has a peak sensitivity at a WIMP mass of 33 GeV/c2  (see below), with a sensitivity limit three times better than any previous experiment. LUX also has a sensitivity that is more than 20 times better than previous experiments for low-mass WIMPs, whose possible detection has been suggested by other experiments. Three candidate low-mass WIMP events recently reported in ultra-cold silicon detectors would have produced more than 1,600 events in LUX’s much larger detector, or one every 80 minutes in the recent run. No such signals were seen.

Sanford Lab's Neutrino Day ‘the best day ever’

July 2, 2013
Davis-Bahcall scholar Daniel Ostraat and Sanford Lab intern Ashley Wingert demonstrate to an eager young scientist how carbon atoms bond in graphite by peeling away layers with tape. Davis-Bahcall scholars and interns helped staff more than two dozen science activities.

Neutrino Day 2013 drew more than 1,100 people on Saturday, July 13—a record crowd for the Sanford Lab's free annual science festival. (Last year’s total was 960.)

Fritz Miller of South Dakota Public Broadcasting offered this report: “For me, the day can be wrapped up in the words of a 5 or 6-year-old boy who walked away from our table saying ‘This is the BEST DAY EVER!’”

This year we had events at three locations—at our surface campus, at the Homestake Visitor Center and throughout downtown Lead. Shuttle buses ferried participants all day, and everything ran smoothly. Check for photos and details tomorrow.

Many thanks to our sponsors and volunteers. They include our major sponsors: South Dakota Public Broadcasting and the John T. Vucurevich Foundation (which funds SDPB's activities), Black Hills Power and the Lead Chamber of Commerce. Our other sponsors include Black Hills State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Goldcorp, New Rushmore Radio, KEVN, Simpsons Printing, Black Hills Mining Museum, the Historic Homestake Opera House and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library in Lead.

This year we expanded Neutrino Day to include events and science talks in downtown Lead. Shuttle buses ferried participants between activities downtown, at the Homestake Visitor Center and the Sanford Lab's surface campus at the Yates Shaft. The expansion allowed us to move almost all activities indoors, so Neutrino Day was weather proof. We'll follow a similar format for Neutrino Day 2014, which will be on Saturday, July 12, so plan to attend.

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