View all news

Million-pound grant for Bristol physicists to investigate matter and anti-matter

The DUNE project has the potential to lead to profound changes in our understanding of the universe.

The DUNE global science project that brings together the scientific communities of the UK and 31 countries to build the world’s most advanced neutrino observatory.

Press release issued: 21 November 2019

The University of Bristol will receive up to £1.1M to research matter and anti-matter as part of a global science experiment that will inform the debate about why the universe survived the Big Bang.

The funding is part of the latest UK multi-million pound investment in the DUNE global science project that brings together the scientific communities of the UK and 31 countries from Asia, Europe and the Americas to build the world’s most advanced neutrino observatory. The DUNE project has the potential to lead to profound changes in our understanding of the universe. 

DUNE (the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment) is a flagship international experiment hosted by the United States Department of Energy’s Fermilab.

Jonas Rademacker, Professor of Physics at the University of Bristol is the current Bristol DUNE project Principal Investigator.

“The DUNE experiment will study neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos, in unprecedented detail. The results might finally explain why the matter and antimatter created in the big bang did not almost completely annihilate and disappear, and why instead, enough matter was left over to create galaxies, stars, planets, and us humans to look at it all.”

The 40kt DUNE detector, located 1 mile underground in a former gold mine in South Dakota, will study an intense beam of neutrinos sent 1300km through the earth’s crust from Fermilab. The experiment will also watch for the intense flash of neutrinos produced when a star explodes and turns into a neutron star or a black hole, and will investigate whether protons live forever or eventually decay. Proton decay is predicted in many theories bringing us closer to fulfilling the dream of a grand unified theory.

Dr Jim Brooke, who will soon take over the role of PI from colleague Professor Rademacker, said:  

“It is incredibly exciting to be part of DUNE. Neutrinos are not well understood, and DUNE will measure them to exquisite precision. However, it is going to produce data at a colossal rate, far higher than we can store and analyse. Here in Bristol, we are drawing on our experience from the Large Hadron Collider, to build a system that can identify neutrino interactions in the data, almost in real-time. This will allow us to choose which data is stored for further analysis, and which data to throw away. It’s really important we get this right - there is no recycle bin, so the data we reject is lost forever!”

Professor Stefan Soldner-Rembold, head of the Particle Physics Group at the University of Manchester as well as DUNE Co-Spokesperson, said that DUNE would help to answer fundamental questions that overlap particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.

Professor Alfons Weber from the University of Oxford who is leading the project in the UK, said:

“DUNE will be an exciting experiment and it is fantastic to see how the UK is supporting fundamental science. This announcement has allowed us to take a lead in many aspects of the experiment as the biggest contributor outside the USA. We have a significant task ahead of us in the coming years and we are looking forward to delivering our contributions.”

The UK universities involved in the project are: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Sussex, UCL and Warwick.


Further information

About the funding

The investment from UK Research and Innovations’ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a four-year construction grant to 13 universities and to STFC’s Rutherford Appleton and Daresbury Laboratories.  This grant, of £30M, represents the first stage of two to support the DUNE construction project in the UK which will run until 2026 and has a total cost of £45M.

About DUNE

The international Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab, will provide insight into the origin of matter in the universe. LBNF will create the world’s most intense high-energy neutrino beam and send it 1300km from Fermilab in Illinois towards the 70,000 ton DUNE detector one mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota. Once constructed, LBNF and DUNE will operate for at least 15 years undertaking a broad and exciting science programme.

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, a joint partnership between the University of Chicago and the Universities Research Association, Inc. Visit Fermilab’s website and follow us on Twitter.

More information about the facility and experiment can be found at:

Fermilab - Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF)
DUNE - An international mega-science project

UK involvement with the DUNE collaboration is through STFC and the following universities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, Lancaster, Liverpool, UCL, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Sussex and Warwick. They provide essential expertise and components to the experiment and facility. This ranges from the high-power neutrino production target, the readout planes, accelerator development associated with PIP-II and data acquisitions systems to the reconstruction software.

STFC manages the UK’s investment in the international facility, giving UK scientists and engineers the chance to take a leading role in the management and development of the DUNE far detector and the LBNF beam line. The STFC Technology Department is also involved in the data acquisition system for the detector and in designing a high power neutrino production target.

Various elements of the experiment are under construction across the world, with the UK taking a major role in contributing essential expertise and components to the experiment and facility. This includes work to produce over 150 Anode Plane Assembly, the largest component of the DUNE detector, a high volume, high speed data acquisition system to record the data of the different detectors and the essential software to interpret the data and extract the physics.

Edit this page