In the quest to unravel the characteristics of the mysterious neutrino particle, millions of which pass through us undetected every day, scientists from several international universities have joined forces with UK research colleagues to build a unique engineering technology demonstrator at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. Known as MICE [Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment] the experiment will prove one of the key requirements to produce intense beams of neutrinos at a dedicated Neutrino Factory to be built later this decade.
Announcing funding for the experiment Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury said, "It is a testament to the UK's world class science and facilities that leading experimental physicists from across the globe have supported conducting a project of this calibre in the UK. The Government's investment in this experiment will provide a unique showcase of UK scientific and engineering technology.The support for using the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is a further demonstration of the UK's position as a leading base for scientific research and innovation."
Recent observations of solar neutrinos have shown that they change state [oscillate], between three forms - electron, tau and muon - during their journey from the Sun to the Earth. This discovery is extremely significant since oscillations can only occur if neutrinos have mass. The Standard Model of particle physics, on which our current understanding how our universe was created and is held together, assumes that neutrinos have no mass. The ability for neutrinos to change state,
therefore having mass, means the Standard Model is wrong or incomplete.
MICE will study the behaviour of muons as they pass through materials and are then subsequently accelerated. In this way, scientists will learn how to create bunches of muons having similar energies and travelling in the same direction, which can then be accelerated and stored within the Neutrino Factory as part of the process to explore the characteristics of the neutrino to unprecedented accuracy, reshaping our understanding of the structure of nature and the forces which bind it
Funding for MICE has been provided by the Government's Large Facilities Capital Fund (�7.5 million), the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC] �1.28 million and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils [CCLRC] �0.92 million.
Professor Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of PPARC said, " Siting MICE here in the UK is a clear recognition of the expertise and infrastructure we already have in place - and this positive investment will position the UK to be a major player in the development and possible hosting of a Neutrino Factory in the future."
In order to make precise measurements of the detailed characteristics of neutrino oscillations a new facility, a Neutrino Factory, is required. Such a facility will produce very intense beams of neutrinos with well known characteristics. The objective of MICE is to show that muons can be assembled into "bunches" with similar energies going in the same direction enabling them to be suitable for subsequent acceleration and storage. The technology for this process of
'ionisation cooling', as it is known, will be demonstrated by MICE. The feasibility of this novel technique is at the root of a whole line of new accelerators from Neutrino Factories to Muon Colliders.
After an exhaustive search, the international collaboration decided that the muon beam from ISIS at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory provided the most suitable environment for this experiment. The collaboration will design, build and test a section of the realistic cooling channel on a beam line.
Professor John Wood, Chief Executive of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory said, "I am delighted that the international Muon Ionisation Cooling
Experiment (MICE) will be performed at the CCLRC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. This project adds to the already considerable portfolio of world-leading projects hosted on ISIS, the world's most powerful pulsed neutron source, and represents a major step on the way to the design of a future neutrino factory."
Professor Ken Long of Imperial College London, and the UK Spokesperson for MICE said "I am very pleased that MICE is going to be performed in the UK on ISIS. This is a very significant step towards the design of a Neutrino Factory, and could not have been achieved without the dedication and support of the international MICE collaboration, from Europe, the US and Japan. It is also a remarkable success for particle physicists and accelerator scientists in the UK. I would also like to acknowledge the strong support that we have received from many people and organisations, but particularly PPARC and CCLRC, and the contribution from the Large Facilities Capital Fund, without which this would not have been possible."
The MICE collaboration consists of 150 scientists from the UK, continental Europe, the US and Japan. UK collaborators are from UK collaborators are from Brunel University, University of Edinburgh, Glasgow University, University of Liverpool, Imperial College London, University of Oxford, CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, University of Sheffield.
Further quotes from international collaborators
Professor Alain Blondel of the University of Geneva, and Spokesperson for the international MICE collaboration said "The approval of MICE in the United Kingdom is a remarkable achievement by our UK colleagues; it demonstrates vision, perseverance, and considerable skill. For this, they command our respect and admiration. This approval is a real breakthrough and opens the possibility that a Neutrino Factory will be built in the next decade. The Neutrino Factory will be the tool of choice to explore the fascinating physics properties of neutrinos, those ever-so-tiny particles with which the universe is filled. Neutrinos may elucidate the secret of how antimatter disappeared from a universe made of pure energy at the time of the Big Bang, allowing it to evolve into the rich and diverse world, made only of matter, in which we live."
Dr Michael Zisman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US and Deputy Spokesperson of the international MICE collaboration said "Ionization cooling is the key principle on which a new generation of accelerators based on muon beams-either a Neutrino Factory or a Muon Collider-can be based. A critical step in verifying the performance of this new type of accelerator is the experimental demonstration of ionization cooling of muons. The approval of the Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment (MICE) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK thus marks a milestone in the development of state-of-the-art particle
accelerators. We in the U.S. Neutrino Factory and Muon Collider Collaboration congratulate our UK colleagues for their success in getting MICE approved, and look forward to our participation as collaborators in this exciting experiment."
Professor Yoshitaka Kuno of Osaka University, Japan and leader of the Japanese team said "I offer my congratulations on the approval of MICE in the UK. It is a great step towards the goal of demonstrating that ionisation cooling works, and an essential step on the way to the design of a Neutrino Factory, which is one of the most exciting future projects in particle physics. MICE is a superb example of the benefits of truly international collaboration on advanced scientific projects."
Professor Vittorio Palladino of the University of Naples and leader of the Italian team working on MICE said "MICE is an essential step towards really new concepts and performance in the production of high quality muon beams. Neutrino Factories and even muon-antimuon colliders offer new ways to explore the universe with unprecedented precision. I would like to stress the importance of continental Europe joining enthusiastically this effort in the UK, as dedicated teams from Belgium, Italy, Holland and Switzerland are already doing, in collaboration with our colleagues in the US and Japan."
Professor Daniel Kaplan of the Illinois Institute of Technology and Chairperson of the international MICE Collaboration Board said "I and my US colleagues in the MICE collaboration salute the UK's forward-looking support of research and development on future particle accelerators. MICE exemplifies a new and growing trend: particle-accelerator R&D not just by the accelerator experts at national laboratories but by particle physicists (and their students) at universities. Research funding agencies such as the US National Science Foundation have taken note and are contributing importantly to the success of the project. Such a broad-based effort bodes well for the health of elementary-particle physics in the 21st Century. "
See http://www.gnn.gov.uk/environment/dti/ for DTI release
Notes to Editors
Gill Ormrod - PPARC Press Office
Tel: +44 (0)1793 442012. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacky Hutchinson - CCLRC RAL Press Office
Tel: +44 1235 446482. Email: J.J.C.Hutchinson@rl.ac.uk
Professor Ken Long, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London
Tel: +44 207 5947812. Mobile: +44 7890 595138
1.Professor Alain Blondel, DPNC, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Tel: +4122 379 6227; mobile +41  764 874058
2.Dr Michael Zisman, Mail Stop 71R0259, Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory, One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Tel: +1 510 486 5765; Fax: +1 510 486 7981; Pager +1 510 425 8531
3.Professor Yoshitaka Kuno, Department of Physics, Osaka University,
Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan 560-0043
EMail : email@example.com
Tel: +81 6 6850 5565; Fax: +81 6 6850 5561
4.Professor Vittorio Palladino, leader of the Italian MICE team,
Department of Physics, University & INFN Napoli, Dip. of Physical
Sciences, via Cintia, I-80126, Napoli, Italy
Tel: +39 81 676182
5.Professor Daniel Kaplan, Illinois Institute of Technology and Chair
of the Collaboration Board, 3101 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL
Tel: +1 312 567 3389; Fax +1 312 567 3289
Further details about MICE can be found at
UK physicists and engineers have leading positions in the collaboration, specifically in the design of the MICE Muon Beam, the superconducting focusing solenoids and the two scintillating-fibre trackers.
A 3D quarter sectional view of the MICE Cooling Channel is available
from Gill Ormrod in the PPARC Press Office on 01793 442012. Email:
1. The Standard Model of Particle Physics is built on the fact that the
elementary building blocks of matter are divided into three generations
of two kinds of particle - quarks and leptons. The leptons consist of
the charged electron, muon and tau, together with three electronically
neutral particles - the electron neutrino, muon neutrinos and tau
neutrinos. The Standard Model predicts that neutrinos have no mass.
These arguments have come to the fore as results from experiments (such
as those from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada) detecting
neutrinos from the Sun, as well as atmospheric neutrinos produced by
cosmic rays, do have mass after all.
A deep underground experiment which detected solar neutrinos showed
that only one third of the numbers predicted by the theories of how the
Sun works were present. The suggestion on why this might be is that
solar neutrinos might be changing into something else. i.e. only
electron neutrinos are emitted by the Sun and they could be converting
into muon and tau neutrinos which were not being detected on Earth. This
effect - neutrino oscillation - requires neutrinos to have mass.
As the Standard Model predicts zero mass for neutrinos - the results
indicate that there must be new physics going beyond the Standard Model
- the question is what?
1.2. The Neutrino Factory refers to a new way of generating very high
intensity beams of high energy neutrinos of known characteristics
(composition, energy) by storing muons in a decay ring with long
straight sections pointing to large detectors hundreds or thousands of
kilometres away. Studies have shown that such a Neutrino Factory can be
built, but that there are a number of technical challenges to be solved
before a technical design can be completed.
2.3. "Ionisation cooling" is the only technique that can "cool"
the muons fast enough-muons decay in about 2 millionths of a second. The
"cooling" refers to the idea that a cloud of muons that all have
different energies and directions looks like a "hot" gas, whereas
when they all have about the same energy and move in the same direction,
they look like a "cool" gas. In ionisation cooling, the energy of
the muon is reduced by passage through matter (probably liquid hydrogen)
and one component of the energy is restored by acceleration with
radiofrequency (RF) electric fields. While there is no doubt that this
works, the efficiency of cooling in this way requires detailed knowledge
of the behaviour of muons in many materials-for example, in the windows
of the vessel that contains the liquid hydrogen.
3.4. The Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment (MICE) will demonstrate
that it is possible to design, build and characterise a section of a
realistic cooling channel, and obtain the performance expected.
Achieving this will give confidence that a full Ionisation Cooling
Channel (which will consist of a large number of cooling sections) can
be designed and built economically. In order to demonstrate the cooling
performance, it will be necessary to characterise the muon beam going
into and coming out of the cooling section with unprecedented accuracy.
4.5. The physics motivation for the Neutrino factory is the study of
the properties of neutrinos. In the wake of the spectacular observation
of cosmic neutrinos, which gained the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002
for Ray Davis and Masatoshi Koshiba, it was also discovered that
neutrinos have mass and undergo, over astronomical distances, a quantum
phenomenon called "neutrino oscillations". Much of the excitement
arises because there is the possibility within the neutrino oscillation
phenomenon that there could be a significant difference between the
properties of neutrinos and antineutrinos, and that this might be
related to the observation that in the Universe today there is no
antimatter, although in the Big Bang, matter and antimatter would have
been created in equal amounts. A Neutrino Factory would be the most
powerful source of neutrinos suitable for these experiments. The
discovery of an asymmetry in the properties of neutrinos and
antineutrinos would be one of the most exciting discoveries of the 21st
The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the
UK's strategic science investment agency. It funds research,
education and public understanding in four broad areas of science -
particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.
PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and
studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers
access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of
international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear
Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern
Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on
La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology
Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
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