Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Mark Chen and Mark Boulay receive $9 Million to study the structure of our universe

Posted On: January 21, 2010

From the Queen's News Centre: 2010-01-21
Queen's physicists Mark Boulay and Mark Chen have received $9,051,791 from the Ontario Research Fund Research Infrastructure program to search for answers to the structure and evolution of our universe. Together, Professors Boulay and Chen are uniquely positioned to make breakthrough discoveries in particle astrophysics.

"This provincial funding allows us to have a good potential for discovery, thus opening a new window on our universe," says Professor Boulay, whose research focuses on "dark matter", particles that are thought to account for most of the matter in the universe. "It places Canada at the leading edge of dark matter research by allowing us to perform particle searches that are about 500 times more sensitive than existing experiments."

The professors' research will be conducted in their Queen's University labs, as well as at SNOLAB — an underground science laboratory specializing in dark matter and neutrino physics that developed from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. The observatory is a Queen's-led project that has made major scientific discoveries in the past decade in neutrino physics.

"I research neutrinos, tiny subatomic particles produced in the core of the sun and considered one of the basic building blocks of the universe. I use them to study different nuclear reactions in the sun and as a probe of radioactive decay in the earth. Our new experiment will also search for a very rare nuclear decay related to a unique property of the neutrino," says Professor Chen. "We're thrilled with this new funding. It allows us to go forward with new experiments that address fundamental and important questions that will help our understanding of the evolution of the early universe."

Through the Ontario Research Fund Research Infrastructure program, Ontario is investing $9,369,330 to support research projects across the province.