First particle tracks seen in prototype for international neutrino experiment

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CERN and Fermilab announce big step in Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

The largest liquid-argon neutrino detector in the world has just recorded its first particle tracks, signaling the start of a new chapter in the story of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).

DUNE’s scientific mission is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of neutrinos, the most abundant (and most mysterious) matter particles in the universe. Neutrinos are all around us, but we know very little about them. Scientists on the DUNE collaboration think that neutrinos may help answer one of the most pressing questions in physics: why we live in a universe dominated by matter. In other words, why we are here at all.

The enormous ProtoDUNE detector — the size of a three-story house and the shape of a gigantic cube — was built at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, as the first of two prototypes for what will be a much, much larger detector for the DUNE project, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States. When the first DUNE detector modules record data in 2026, they will each be 20 times larger than these prototypes. There will be four modules in total.

It is the first time CERN is investing in infrastructure and detector development for a particle physics project in the United States.

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Inside the first ProtoDUNE detector, before it was filled with liquid argon. Photo: CERN

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