Objects that we experience daily consist of just three kinds of particles: electrons and two quarks. Other fundamental, and fascinating particles exist, but they are much more elusive and harder to characterize. Consider, for example, the neutrino, or rather the three different types (or flavors) of neutrinos that we know about. We have caught neutrinos transforming (or oscillating) from one flavor to another as they travel through space. These oscillations can only happen if neutrinos have non-zero masses. Yet we have not yet measured their masses, or fully characterized the oscillations.
James Battat and their research team are developing a detector called Q-Pix to deepen scientists understanding of fundamental particles like neutrinos by providing high spatial resolution and 3D tracking capability for enormous (building-sized) particle detectors. This advanced technology will open new windows of exploration into fundamental particles and their interactions, and help address some of the biggest open questions in the field.
Q-Pix will enable more precise measurements of elusive particles like neutrinos, to provide insights into the deepest laws that govern our universe. For example, it is known that neutrinos oscillate between flavors, but scientists do not yet know if neutrinos and their antiparticles oscillate the same way. This last question bears on the fundamental question of our existence: why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe?
Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative
Wellesley College, Department of Physics