Fermilab's Future

Fermilab's research program for 2015 and beyond

New facilities at Fermilab, the nation's dedicated particle physics laboratory, would provide thousands of scientists from across the United States and around the world with world-class scientific opportunities. In collaboration with the Department of Energy and the particle physics community, Fermilab is pursuing a strategic plan that addresses fundamental questions about the physical laws that govern matter, energy, space and time. Fermilab is advancing plans for the best facilities in the world for the exploration of neutrinos and rare subatomic processes, far beyond current global capabilities. The proposed construction of a two-megawatt high-intensity proton accelerator, Project X, would enable a comprehensive program of discovery at the Intensity Frontier and spur the development of accelerator technology for future energy-frontier accelerators. The proposed LBNE neutrino project, which would use the world's highest-intensity neutrino beam, would allow scientists to explore the role that neutrinos played in creating a universe of matter. And a new muon experiment, Mu2e, would aim to find out whether muons morph into electrons the way that quarks and neutrinos can transform into each other, with transformational implications for particle physics.

High-intensity particle beams

The proposed Project X accelerator (see animation) would allow scientists to conduct a series of experiments at the Intensity Frontier with a 2-megawatt particle beam. The accelerator, which could be build in stages, would accelerate a proton beam with much higher beam intensity than can be produced with Fermilab's current accelerator complex. The beam would provide particles for kaon, muon, nuclear and neutrino experiments that would address key questions of 21st-century physics: How did the universe come to be? What happened to the antimatter? Do all the forces unify? These intensity-frontier measurements would open a doorway to realms of ultra-high energies beyond those that any particle collider could ever directly achieve.

The best neutrino experiment in the world

Are neutrinos the reason we exist? The roughly 400 scientists of the LBNE collaboration are advancing plans for the world's best neutrino and proton decay experiment. It would send a high-intensity neutrino beam from Fermilab to a particle detector in South Dakota. Construction of the experiment, which received stage-two approval by DOE in 2012, could be underway in 2015. The experiment's capabilities would far exceed those of the NOvA neutrino experiment, which will take data until 2019. The LBNE experiment would determine whether neutrinos break the matter-antimatter symmetry, which could be the long-sought explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter across the universe. Scientists also would use the ultra-sensitive detector to search for signs of proton decay, a phenomenon predicted by models for a Grand Unified Theory.

Using muons to look beyond the Standard Model

Physicists have found that quarks and neutrinos are notorious violators of flavor symmetry—a fundamental symmetry of the Standard Model of particles. So far, though, experiments have failed to observe flavor violation by electrons and muons. The Mu2e experiment, awarded first-stage approval by DOE in 2009 for a possible construction start by 2015, would search for the rare transformation of a muon into an electron, a clear signal of flavor symmetry violation—and unmistakable evidence of physics beyond the Standard Model.

The next-generation particle collider

In collaboration with industry and DOE national laboratories, Fermilab is developing superconducting acceleration technologies. These SRF technologies have future proton and electron beam applications, including Project X and next-generation energy-frontier particle colliders. Scientists are developing proposals for several future colliders, including the International Linear Collider and a muon collider (see animation). Discoveries at CERN's LHC will help determine which direction will best advance energy-frontier research. Beyond 2015, U.S. scientists will continue to make crucial contributions to the CMS experiment at the LHC thanks to Fermilab's Grid Computing Center and LHC Remote Operations Center.

Research at the Cosmic Frontier

Ninety-five percent of the universe consists of unknown dark matter and dark energy. Fermilab conducts some of the world's most advanced cosmic-frontier experiments to discover their nature and plans to remain a leader in the next generation of world-class projects. In 2015, the Dark Energy Survey will be in the middle of its initial 5-year run, and Fermilab scientists are planning upgrades to extend the operation of the Dark Energy Camera for an additional five years. The CDMS and COUPP collaborations are developing plans for larger-scale underground experiments, much more sensitive to dark-matter particles than any currently operating experiment. Fermilab scientists will work on the LSST collaboration to build a wide-field optical survey telescope to observe more than half the sky every four nights. The LSST, identified as a top priority in the 2010 decadal study of the National Research Council, will explore dark energy, supernovae and time-variable phenomena.

Last modified: 03/27/2013  |