Inside ProtoDUNE

The construction of ProtoDUNE at CERN continues, and as you can see, it’s got the shine and sparkle of a disco ball.

You’re looking inside the single-phase, 11-meter-tall detector, one of two prototypes being built in preparation for the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE. The giant DUNE detector will contain 68,000 tons of liquid argon. Scientists will study the interaction of neutrinos — little-understood particles — with argon nuclei to learn more about them.

Inside ProtoDUNE, the liquid argon will be allowed to expand and contract thanks to the detector’s expandable membrane. Photo: Sarah Charley

Physicists at CERN will test the ProtoDUNE detector using a beam from CERN’s SPS accelerator. The detector walls are padded with 80 centimeters of insulation and lined with wood paneling. What you see in the picture is the expandable metal membrane, which is being installed over the wood paneling and will hold the liquid argon like a watertight accordion inside a rigid cooler. This way the membrane can expand and contract depending on the temperature of the liquid argon and protect the outer walls from the expansion-contraction stress.

The prototype’s active detector volume will be 6 meters high, 7 meters wide and 7.2 meters deep, and the detector will contain a total of 77 kilotons of liquid argon. Its scale is one twentieth that of the future DUNE detector.

The workers are standing on scaffolding near the ceiling of the detector.

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