Doing our part to make the P5 vision a reality

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

Three months ago the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) released its recommendations for the future of particle physics in the United States. Many lab employees, users and members of the broader scientific community have worked hard this summer to kick-start the effort to achieve the P5 vision. Today’s column provides an update of where we stand in our effort to align the lab’s priorities and activities to match those recommended by P5.

Building a world-leading neutrino physics program
The biggest challenge P5 delivered to our laboratory is to host a world-leading short- and long-baseline neutrino physics program. Since May, Fermilab’s neutrino team has worked intensely with national and international partners to lay the groundwork for a forefront short-baseline program and for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility.

We are moving forward on two fronts toward LBNF. Joe Lykken is working with funding agency representatives to propose a model that will transform our lab into one that can host international projects. This will be no easy feat, and this group is working hard to propose a mechanism that will work within the DOE system and allow international funding agencies to feel ownership of and be able to review projects hosted by Fermilab. On the second front, more than 50 members of the international neutrino community came to a late-July summit at Fermilab. As a result of the meeting, an Interim International Executive Board was formed that will guide the scientific strategy for LBNF. The IIEB will also steer the community toward submitting a letter of intent to our Physics Advisory Committee this fall and a conceptual design report for the experiment by next summer.

On the accelerator side, Steve Holmes has been leading a very active effort to redirect our SRF R&D program to support the PIP-II project, which will produce megawatt neutrino beams for LBNF. PIP-II’s cornerstone will be the construction of a new Superconducting Linac (SCL) that will make excellent use of the infrastructure and expertise we have developed through our ILC R&D efforts and are currently exercising through our contributions to SLAC’s LCLS-II project.

Support for CMS and LHC upgrades
As the U.S. host laboratory for the CMS experiment and the lab with lead responsibilities for U.S. contributions to the high-luminosity LHC accelerator upgrade, we have a major role to play in supporting these high-priority projects. We are committed to helping the LHC community succeed and look forward to the discoveries to come. First up will be the Phase 1 upgrades for the LHC experiments. Congratulations go to the CMS upgrade team for a successful DOE CD-2/3 review earlier this month. The LHC Accelerator Research Program continues to pass milestones in its high-field magnet and crab cavity R&D and is moving toward implementing this work in a construction project for the high-luminosity LHC.

Moving forward on dark matter and dark energy
In July the DOE and NSF jointly announced their selections for the second-generation dark-matter program, including the SuperCDMS project, which will build a large detector in Canada’s SNOLAB to search for low-mass dark-matter particles. We are working actively with our many SuperCDMS partners to advance the experiment following the agencies’ announcement. The other dark-matter efforts in which we participate, including DarkSide, DAMIC and COUPP/PICO, will continue to take data with their current experiments. We also provide leadership for the Dark Energy Survey, which just began its second season and will remain the world’s forefront dark-energy experiment for the rest of its five-year run, and support for the community’s other high-priority efforts, including DESI and LSST.

Exploring the unknown through muons
The P5 plan identified our Mu2e and Muon g-2 projects as immediate targets of opportunity in the search for new physics and recommended their timely completion. The Muon g-2 electromagnet slid safely into its new home at the end of July, marking the end of a year-long, 3,200-mile journey. The very active Muon g-2 collaboration is now installing the magnet and preparing to take data in 2017. The Mu2e project also took a big step forward in July, receiving DOE approval to purchase 45 miles of custom-made superconducting cables. As the cables will take more than a year to fabricate, this gives the collaboration a jump-start on preparations to run in 2020.

The level of effort that has taken place over the last three months is proof of the excitement the P5 plan has inspired among the particle physics community and our lab’s employees. Our collective dedication to achieving the panel’s vision points to an even faster pace of progress over the next months and years.