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Press Release
A new era of physics begins July 21 with LBNF groundbreaking event

The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, home to the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, will send particles 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) through the earth from Chicago to a mile-deep detector in South Dakota.

On Friday, July 21, a new era of physics in the United States will officially begin.

That’s when a group of dignitaries will join scientists, engineers and others from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the Sanford Underground Research Facility and their partners around the world nearly a mile under the earth to break ground on a massive global physics experiment. Once the first shovel full of earth is turned, crews will be ready to excavate more than 800,000 tons of rock—approximately the weight of eight aircraft carriers—to create huge underground caverns for the assembly of enormous particle detectors, all to better understand a mysterious particle called a neutrino.

The invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will be held simultaneously at 3 pm CDT/2 pm MDT at Sanford Lab in South Dakota and at Fermilab in Illinois. Reporters interested in attending the ceremony should contact Andre Salles, Fermilab, at, or Constance Walter, Sanford Lab, at The ceremony will also be simulcast online for the public.

LBNF will be constructed over the next decade, and will be home to the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). Fermilab will send a beam of neutrinos 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) through the earth to a detector that stands nearly four stories tall, built nearly one mile underground and filled with liquid argon. Scientists will study the interactions neutrinos make with argon atoms in a quest to learn more about these elusive yet abundant particles.

The international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) was conceived, designed and will be built by a team of 1,000 scientists and engineers from more than 160 institutions in 30 countries. Construction of large DUNE prototype detectors is already under way at the European research center CERN, a major partner in the project. CERN has also committed to providing the first cryostat to be built in South Dakota. DUNE collaborators come from institutions in Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Neutrinos are the most abundant matter particles in the universe, yet very little is known about their role in the way the universe evolved. DUNE will consist of two particle detectors placed in the world’s most intense neutrino beam. One detector will record particle interactions near the source of the beam, at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, while the other, filled with 70,000 tons of liquid argon and cooled to -300 degrees Fahrenheit, will take snapshots of interactions deep underground at Sanford Lab in Lead, South Dakota.

The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility will provide the neutrino beam and the infrastructure that will support the DUNE detectors, taking advantage of Fermilab’s powerful particle accelerator complex and Sanford Lab’s deep underground areas. At its peak, LBNF construction is expected to create almost 2,000 jobs in South Dakota and a similar number of jobs in Illinois.

DUNE will enable scientists to look for differences in the behavior of neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos, which could provide essential clues as to why we live in a matter-dominated universe – in other words, why we are all here, instead of our universe having been annihilated just after the Big Bang. DUNE will also watch for neutrinos produced by supernovae, which scientists can use to look for the formation of neutron stars or even black holes. The large DUNE detectors also will allow scientists to look for the predicted but never observed subatomic phenomenon of proton decay, a process closely tied to the development of a unified theory of energy and matter.

This research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science in conjunction with CERN and international partners from nearly 30 countries.

Illustrations and animations of the LBNF/DUNE project and its science goals are available at:

More information about the facility and experiment are at:

Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at and follow us on Twitter at @Fermilab.

The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

Sanford Lab is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy. Our mission is to advance compelling underground, multidisciplinary research in a safe work environment and to inspire and educate through science, technology, and engineering. Visit Sanford Lab at

More Information

Constance Walter
Communications Director
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