DUNE - exploiting light and charge in the Vertical Drift detector



The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is a next generation neutrino oscillation experiment. A high power wide-band beam operating in neutrino (anti-neutrino) mode will be produced at FNAL (Chicago). Some 1,300 km away, deep underground at the Sandford Underground Research Facility (South Dakota), four gigantic Far Detector modules will measure νμ (anti-νμ) disappearance, νe (anti-νe) and ντ (anti-ντ) appearance with the goals of:


    determining the Neutrino Mass Ordering 

    measure the CP Violating phase over a wide range of values

    measuring precisely the oscillation parameters

    testing the 3-flavour paradigm


DUNE also has a large subsidiary science program which includes the search for Nucleon Decay and the potential observation of a Galactic Core Collapse SuperNova.


DUNE has begun the construction of the first two of the four gigantic Far Detector modules. Each module is a Liquid Argon Time Projection Chamber, ~62m long, 14m high and 15m wide, containing 17 ktons of liquid argon,  with excellent calorimetric and spatial resolving power. The detectors are conceived to make fine-grained 'images' of the ionization tracks from the products of neutrino interactions in the liquid argon.  Scintillation photons are also emitted promptly as particles interact with the liquid argon medium. Detecting these photons, with the Photon Detection System (PDS), allows to determine the arrival time of the neutrinos which is necessary for 3D localisation of the event within the detector. The photon signal is especially important for the off-beam physics program of DUNE, in particular the detection of low energy signals such as expected from supernova neutrinos, for which the system can independently localise and estimate the neutrino energy.  Galactic supernovae are rare, the last occurred in 1987, and in this event, for the first time, 25 neutrino signals were detected by detectors world-wide. For a similar event, in DUNE, thousands of neutrinos could be detected, allowing the experiment independently to measure their energy spectrum.


In a supernova, the neutrino signal arrives to Earth before the light, so neutrino detectors can play an important role, in alerting ground and space-based telescopes and localising the position in the sky.   DUNE is unique world-wide, in that it is most sensitive to supernova neutrinos, whereas all other large volume neutrino detectors are most sensitive to anti-neutrinos. This makes an eventual observation of a supernova by DUNE extremely valuable.  


French researchers are leading the effort towards the construction of the second Far Detector module,  known as Vertical Drift, expected to be operational by 2029. The APC team has a key role in the development of the Photon Detection System (PDS), and produces electronics for the signal transmission and reception.


A large-scale prototype, protoDUNE-Vertical Drift, hosted at the CERN neutrino platform has been built and will operate during 2025 with a charged particle beam. This will allow studies of the performance of the Vertical Drift design to the daughter particles of beam neutrino interactions as well as cosmic rays.


The thesis will therefore comprise three main activities:

1) simulation of supernova neutrinos in Vertical Drift; studying reconstruction methods using both charge and light signals. Techniques will be studied to overcome the large background rate with the aim of maximising the selection efficiency and estimating the true neutrino energy spectrum.  Finally the sensitivity of DUNE to galactic supernovae at a function of distance can then be obtained.

2) analysis of light and charge data from ProtoDUNE-Vertical Drift.  The beam test will allow the study of charge particles (protons, pions, kaons, muons), of known energies, in this new detector. Studies of performance indicators, such as position and energy reconstruction and particle energy loss (dE/dx), will be made and compared to simulation.   Participate in the analyses needed for the subsequent Vertical-Drift performance publication.


3) Participate in the definition of the third DUNE module.  In 2027, the decision on the final design of the third module will be made. Simulation studies of the supernova neutrinos in this third module will be made in order to assess the performance, with particular focus on the Photon Detector System (number of channels and placement of Photon Detectors). Participation in the detected workshops is anticipated.


In addition, the candidate will also have the opportunity of assisting with the qualification of the PDS electronics produced for the Vertical Drift module, as well as performing R&D towards the PDS of the third DUNE module.


Jaime Dawson






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