Queen’s physicists receive $9 million to study the structure of our universe

January 21, 2010 — People Stories

Sudbury (Ontario) – Staff and Scientists at SNOLAB are delighted with the funding announcement coming from the Ministry of Research and Innovation today. This funding will continue to support revolutionary research taking place two kilometers underground at Vale INCOʼs Creighton Mine in Sudbury.

Ontario is investing $9,051,791 in the DEAP-3600 and the SNO+ experiment that are situated at SNOLAB. Dr. Mark Boulay and Dr. Mark Chen of Queenʼs University are the Principal Investigators in these dark matter experiments; this funding will ensure they have the tools and resources to continue groundbreaking research into understanding the origin of the Universe and how it continues to evolve. “This provincial funding will allow us to take full advantage of the new SNOLAB facility by mounting two leading- edge experiments, with the potential of opening new windows on our universe.    Dark matter particles have not yet been discovered, but are thought to account for most of the matter in our universe.” said Dr. Boulay. “This new funding will allow us to increase experimental sensitivity to these particles by about 500 over existing experiments, possibly allowing us to detect them for the first time.”

“Weʼre 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.” said Dr. Chen Minister of Research and Innovation John Milloy was on hand for todayʼs announcement: “Our government is focussed on creating jobs today and tomorrow – and providing support for innovative people and innovative thinking. We are demonstrating, once again, that our government understands the value of science to improving our lives and our economy.” Milloy was joined by MPP for Sudbury Rick Bartolucci, “Weʼre proud of the work that our researchers do and the wealth and jobs they create in Sudbury. ”

“These experiments will deliver world class research on a variety of cutting-edge physics questions, which will keep Canada at the forefront of the underground physics field.” said SNOLAB Director Dr. Nigel Smith. “SNOLAB is delighted to be able to host these wonderful experiments in the underground laboratories.”

Background information:

The SNOLAB International Underground Science Facility is situated 2 km (6800 ft) underground in Vale-INCOʼs Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The new facility was created by an expansion of the underground research areas next to the highly successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment. The entire laboratory is operated as an ultra-clean space to limit local radioactivity. With greater depth than any other international laboratory it has the lowest background from cosmic rays providing an ideal location for measurements of rare processes that would be otherwise unobservable. Measurements are planned by a number of international collaborations that will seek Dark Matter particles left from the Big Bang and search for a rare radioactive process called neutrino-less double beta decay that could help explain the development of matter in the early Universe. Other experiments will measure neutrinos from the Sun, the Earth, watch for Supernovae in our galaxy and measure local seismic activity. The facility is operated by the SNO Institute with Canadian scientific participants from Laurentian University, Carleton University, Queenʼs University, University of Montreal, University of Guelph, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia and TRIUMF laboratory.

For more information on SNOLAB contact:
Ms. Samantha Kuula Science Education & Outreach Officer Phone: (705) 692-7000 ext. 2222 Email: skuula@snolab.ca Website: www.snolab.ca

To learn more about the Ministry of Research and Innovation, please visit: www.ontario.ca/innovation. To learn more about Queenʼs University, please visit: www.queensu.ca/