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Search for a new kind of matter with a 3D scintillating detector

The solid detector in operation
SoLid detector in operation at 6m from the BR2 research reactor

The goal of the SoLid experiment is to resolve the current experimental anomalies that hints at the possible existence of one or more purely neutral particles with mass of ~ 1 eV called sterile neutrinos. The experiment second goal is to provide a precise measurement of a pure U-235 core antineutrino spectrum, a key ingredient in the antineutrino flux calculation.

SoLid is searching for the disappearance of electron antineutrinos into this new sterile neutrino state by measuring precisely the antineutrino flux emitted from the BR2 research reactor core as a function of distance and energy located at the SCK•CEN laboratory in Mol, Belgium. The experiment uses a revolutionary detector design that provides exquisite position resolution and imaging of particle interactions.

These features provide SoLid with a unique dataset to answer those challenging questions. A precise oscillometric measurement is the only way to prove or disprove that disappearance of electron antineutrinos is due to the existence of a new particle. If true, such a discovery would be truly unexpected, opening an entirely new window into the dark universe and even the nature of dark matter.

Imperial contribution

The Imperial SoLid group is heavily involved the current sterile neutrino search with leading contributions in the design, construction and operation of fine grained 3D imager detector system. We are also working on applying state-of-the-art techniques in machine learning and statistics to the main analysis. The group is leveraging large scale processing using gridPP to provide the experiment with analysis-ready datasets.

This work is supported by the European Research council under the ERC Horizon 2020 program, consolidator grant agreement n. 682474 (A. Vacheret).

People involved


All group members: Dr B. Hosseini, Kyle Graves, Dr Antonin Vacheret