Fermilab’s NOvA neutrino experiment records in its giant particle detector the passage of slippery particles called neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos. Famously elusive, these particles’ interactions are challenging to capture, requiring the steady accumulation of interaction data to be able to pin down their characteristics. With five years’ worth of data, NOvA is adding to scientists’ understanding of neutrinos’ mass and oscillation behavior.

For the first time, a team at Fermilab has cooled and operated a superconducting radio-frequency cavity — a crucial component of superconducting particle accelerators — using cryogenic refrigerators, breaking the tradition of cooling cavities by immersing them in a bath of liquid helium. The demonstration is a major breakthrough in the effort to develop lean, compact accelerators for medicine, the environment and industry.

Future particle colliders will need strong magnets to steer high-energy particle beams as they travel close to the speed of light on their circular path. A group at Fermilab has achieved a record field strength of 14.1 teslas for a particle accelerator steering magnet, breaking the 11-year record.

Superconducting magnets are the workhorses that steer particle beams in most particle accelerators. The problem is that these magnets require costly cryogens to cool. Now, researchers have found a way to create high-temperature superconducting magnets. A group at Fermilab proposed a novel magnet design that works at much higher temperatures. It could substantially simplify magnet fabrication and cooling.


In particle accelerators, the greater a beam’s intensity, the more opportunities there are to study particle interactions. One way to increase the intensity is to merge two beams with a technique called slip-stacking. However, when combining them, the beams’ interaction may cause instability. A Fermilab scientist has created a successful model of the fraught dynamics of two particle beams in close contact, leading to smoother sailing in this area of particle acceleration.

The MINOS+ collaboration at Fermilab collected data with a medium-energy neutrino beam from September 2013 to June 2016. The collaboration has exploited the data to set more stringent boundaries on the possibility of sterile neutrinos mixing with muon neutrinos.

The MINERvA neutrino experiment has a new crime scene investigation technique, one that takes a hard look at the traces that particles leave before fleeing the scene. Researchers used a new technique in a recent MINERvA neutrino investigation. And the new insights they gained on the workings of nuclear effects can help other neutrino experiments.