Science Gazette

Scientists report first findings from Daya Bay’s final dataset


The Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment captured an incredible five and a half million neutrino interactions over the period of almost nine years. The Daya Bay project’s global team of physicists has now revealed the first discovery from the experiment’s whole dataset: the most precise measurement of theta13 to date, a critical parameter for understanding how neutrinos modify “flavor.” The discovery, announced at the Neutrino 2022 conference in Seoul, South Korea, will help physicists solve some of the world’s most perplexing mysteries about the nature of matter and the universe.

Neutrinos are notoriously elusive and very plentiful subatomic particles. They relentlessly assault every square centimeter of the Earth’s surface at almost the speed of light, although they seldom interact with matter. They are able to traverse a lightyear of lead without upsetting a single atom.

One of the characteristics that set neutrinos apart from other ghost-like entities is their ability to change between three distinct “flavors,” which are respectively known as muon, tau, and electron. The Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment’s major goal was to explore the blending angles and mass splits that determine the likelihood of oscillations like these.

At the time Daya Bay was conceived in 2007, only one of the three mixing angles, theta13, was unknown. Therefore, Daya Bay was constructed to measure theta13* with more precision than any previous experiment.

In Guangdong, China, the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment consists of huge, cylindrical particle detectors buried in pools of water in three underground caverns. The 8 detectors detect light signal transmitted by antineutrinos released by nuclear power facilities in the area. Antineutrinos are neutrino antiparticles found in nuclear reactors in abundance. Daya Bay was developed as a result of an international partnership, including a first-of-its-kind collaboration between China and the United States for a significant physics project. Beijing’s Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) leads China’s engagement, while Berkeley National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory co-lead US involvement.

In order to ascertain the value of theta13, scientists at Daya Bay discovered neutrinos of a particular flavor, in this instance electron antineutrinos, in each subterranean cavern. The proximity of two caves to nuclear reactors and the distance between the third cavern and the nuclear reactors is sufficient for antineutrinos to fluctuate. By comparing the amount of electron antineutrinos detected by nearby and distant detectors, scientists were able to compute the proportion of antineutrinos that changed flavor and, accordingly, the value of theta13.

In 2012, scientists at Daya Bay achieved the first conclusive measurement of theta13 and improved the measurement’s precision as the experiment continued to gather data. Now, after nine years of operation and with the culmination of data collection scheduled for December 2020, Daya Bay has exceeded all expectations with its exceptional detector performance and committed data analysis. Scientists have now measured the value of theta13 with a precision that is 1.5 times greater than the accuracy planned for the experiment. No other planned or ongoing experiment is anticipated to attain this level of precision.

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IHEP co-spokesman for Daya Bay, Jun Cao, said that numerous analytic teams meticulously examined the complete dataset, taking into consideration the change of detector performance throughout the nine years of operation. “Not only did the teams use the enormous dataset to optimize the selection of antineutrino events, but also to improve the determination of backgrounds. This endeavor enabled us to achieve an unprecedented degree of accuracy.”

The precise measurement of theta13 will allow scientists to more readily measure other neutrino physics parameters and to create more realistic models of subatomic particles and their interactions.

Physicists may get insight into the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the cosmos by studying the characteristics and interactions of antineutrinos. According to physicists, equal quantities of matter and antimatter were generated during the Big Bang. Nonetheless, if this were true, these two opposites would have vanished, leaving simply light. To explain the abundance of matter (and absence of antimatter) in the cosmos today, some difference between the two must have tilted the scales.

“We anticipate there may be a difference between neutrinos and antineutrinos,” said Kam-Biu Luk, a Berkeley scientist and co-spokesman for Daya Bay. “For leptons, the class of particles that includes neutrinos, we have never seen differences between particles and antiparticles. We have only identified distinctions between quark particles and antiparticles. However, the observed disparities between quarks are insufficient to explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the cosmos. Neutrinos have the potential to be the smoking gun.”

The most recent examination of the full information from Daya Bay provided physicists with an accurate measurement of the mass splitting. This attribute determines the oscillation frequency of neutrinos.

“The measurement of mass splitting was not one of Daya Bay’s primary design goals, but it was made achievable by the relatively large value of theta13,” Luk said. “Using the latest Daya Bay data set, we measured the mass splitting with an accuracy of 2.3%, an improvement above the previous Daya Bay measurement’s 2.8% precision.”

The worldwide Daya Bay cooperation anticipates publishing further results from the full dataset, including updates to prior observations, in the near future.

Neutrino experiments of the next generation, such as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), will use the Daya Bay data to carefully quantify and compare neutrino and antineutrino characteristics. DUNE will give scientists with the most powerful neutrino beam in the world, subterranean detectors separated by 800 miles, and unprecedented opportunities to investigate the behavior of neutrinos.

Elizabeth Worcester, a Daya Bay colleague and experimental physicist at Brookhaven, noted that one of DUNE’s numerous scientific aims is to detect theta13 with almost the same precision as Daya Bay. “This is interesting because we will then obtain exact theta13 measurements from several oscillation channels, allowing us to carefully verify the three-neutrino hypothesis. We may utilize Daya Bay’s accurate theta13 measurement as a constraint to allow the search for neutrino and antineutrino property differences until DUNE achieves this level of accuracy.”

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Scientists will determine which of the three neutrinos is the lightest using reactor neutrinos and the large theta13 value. “The exact theta13 measurement of Daya Bay increases the mass-ordering sensitivity of the Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO),” stated Yifang Wang, JUNO spokeswoman and IHEP director. JUNO will finish construction in China next year. In addition, JUNO will attain sub-percent accuracy in mass splitting measurements made by Daya Bay in a few years.

Due to the importance of neutrinos, it is very crucial to unravel all the mysteries that lie behind them and unlock their true and unlimited potential. Nowadays, we need neutrinos more than ever. Since the finding in 2015 that confirmed that neutrinos do in fact have mass, scientists from all over the world have invested a lot of time and energy into them. Scientists like those at The Neutrino Energy Group, who have been hard at work improving their neutrinovoltaic technology, whose soul goal for the past few years has been to harness the power of neutrinos and other non-visible radiations for the purpose of energy generation, and in doing so, assist the energy now produced by wind farms, solar arrays, and other sustainable energy projects.

The use of neutrinovoltaic technology is similar to that of photovoltaic in many aspects. Rather than collecting neutrinos and other types of non-visible radiation, a part of their kinetic energy is absorbed and subsequently transformed into electricity.

The possibilities for neutrino energy are limitless; for example, neutrinovoltaic cells do not have the same hurdles as other renewable energy sources in terms of efficiency and reliability. For example, neutrinos may flow through almost any known material, implying that neutrinovoltaic cells need not require sunlight to work. They are adaptable enough to be utilized both indoors and outdoors, as well as underwater. Because of the ease with which neutrinovoltaic cells may be insulated while still producing energy, this technology is unaffected by snow and other sorts of adverse weather, allowing it to create power around the clock, every day of the year, regardless of where it is situated on the planet.

Thanks to the work of the Neutrino Energy Group and its amazing Neutrinovoltaic Technology; a one-of-a-kind energy source that will revolutionize the way we think about renewable energy in the coming years, mankind now has a long-awaited and dependable answer to the present energy issue. More significant improvements will occur as a result of their efforts, and perhaps others will follow in their footsteps, and we will live in a better and more ecologically friendly world in the years to come.

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