Queen's University

Unique physics laboratory celebrates official opening

 
2012-05-17

The world’s deepest and cleanest laboratory celebrates its official launch as SNOLAB opens its doors.

The laboratory is an international and collaborative facility located underground in Sudbury, Ontario. Its member institutions include Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, Université de Montréal and the University of Alberta. Researchers at these institutions are active participants in the SNOLAB research program.

“The launch of SNOLAB as an international facility for astroparticle physics will maintain Canada’s status as a world leader in this field of science,” says Tony Noble, Director, SNOLAB Institute and Professor of Physics at Queen's University. “The questions being addressed by experiments at this facility are recognized world wide as amongst the most important and fundamental in science today.”

The SNOLAB underground laboratory is an expansion of the original Sudbury Neutrino Observatory facility and is located two kilometres below the ground. As the world's deepest underground laboratory, SNOLAB has the lowest background from cosmic rays, providing an ideal location for measurements of rare processes that would otherwise be unobservable.

“After completing the science goals of the original Sudbury Neutrino Observatory we had two opportunities: one, to upgrade the SNO detector in order to extend its sensitivity – we call this the SNO+ project – and two, to expand the underground facility to establish the lowest background underground laboratory in the world, making SNOLAB a place ideally suited for the next-generation of experiments in astroparticle physics,” says Mark Chen, Queen’s professor and Director of the SNO+ Project.

Measurements are planned by a number of international collaborations that will seek dark matter particles left from the Big Bang, and search for a rare radioactive process called neutrino-less double beta decay that could help explain the development of matter in the early universe. Other experiments will measure neutrinos from the sun and the Earth, watch for supernovae in our galaxy, and measure local seismic activity.

The opening of this facility has been enabled through the combined efforts of the partner universities, enormous intellectual engagement of the Canadian and international scientific community, and investments by our funding agencies for the facility, the experiments, and for support of the Canada Research Chairs program that has dramatically increased the Canadian capability in this area of science.  

“The opportunities SNOLAB provides to our researchers is unprecedented as they now have access to one of the top science research facilities in the world,” says Steven Liss, Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research). “It also marks a significant partnership opportunity both nationally and internationally.”

To watch the official opening streaming live, visit the SNOLAB website Thursday, May 17 at 11 a.m.

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