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Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility will host the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, the world’s flagship neutrino experiment
Graphic of Neutrino Beam from FermiLab to Sanford Lab.

Scientists with the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) hope to revolutionize our understanding of the role neutrinos play in the creation of the universe. Using the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF), they'll shoot a beam of neutrinos from Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, 800 miles through the earth to detectors deep underground at SURF in Lead, South Dakota. LBNF will provide the infrastructure at Fermilab and SURF to support the DUNE detectors.

This ambitious experiment will tackle some of the largest mysteries in the field of particle physics, including the search for the origin of matter and the unification of forces. And if a core-collapse supernova occurs in the Milky Way, we just might be able to see inside a newly formed neutron star and, potentially, witness the birth of a black hole. 

In a large cavern, excavation crew member operates a driller

Excavating for big science

On the 4850 Level of SURF, construction crews have been working tirelessly to carve out a network of caverns and tunnels that one day will house a huge neutrino experiment. Once finished, LBNF will be the site of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.

The new underground area at SURF will consist of three large caverns. Two will measure around 500 feet long, 65 feet wide and 90 feet high. These will provide space to house four detector modules — each filled with 17,000 tons of ultrapure liquid argon. The third will be around 625 feet long, 65 feet wide and 36 feet tall and contain cryogenic support systems, detector electronics and data acquisition equipment.

To create these caverns, a total of approximately 800,000 tons of rock will be excavated and moved to the surface. Once complete, the footprint of the underground area with the three caverns will cover about the size of eight soccer fields.

Due to their size, the APAs will not fit on the elevator-like conveyance used to transport people and materials through the shaft. Instead, the APAs were suspended beneath the cage to lower them underground.

Building a ship in a bottle

Due to their size, many of DUNE's science components will not fit on the elevator-like conveyance used to transport people and materials through the shaft. Instead, science components will be suspended beneath the cage and lowered underground. 

In December 2022, the first DUNE science components arrived at SURF for a test lift in the shaft. Standing a staggering 19.7 feet tall and 7.5 feet wide (6.0 meters tall; 2.3 meters wide), the anode plane arrays are the largest and one of the most fragile components of DUNE. 

A researcher stands on a lift in the ProtoDUNE detectors at CERN

International collaboration

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab is the host laboratory for DUNE, in partnership with funding agencies and more than 1,000 scientists from all over the globe. They contribute expertise and components, which provide economic benefits to each of the partner institutions and countries. DUNE consists of massive neutrino detectors, at Fermilab in Illinois and Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. LBNF produces the world’s most intense neutrino beam and provides the infrastructure. The PIP-II particle accelerator at Fermilab powers the neutrino beam.

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