University of Nebraska-Lincoln physicists will lead a team from eight universities in a five-year, $11.5 million research project looking into the building blocks of the universe.
UNL Physicist Aaron Dominguez said the grant will allow for an upgrade of the accelerator at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.
“And it produces these very violent explosions similar to the Big Bang,” Dominguez told a small gathering at the Lincoln campus. “It allows us essentially to have a microscope looking down at the smallest structures of the fabric of the universe. And what we’re doing is upgrading our microscope. We’re upgrading the part that can actually see these collisions.”
Dominguez stated the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has proved invaluable in leading scientist closer to an understanding of how the universe began. It helped find the Higgs boson. Still, he says much remains unknown.
The UNL team helped build the original Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, one of two large particle detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
The National Science Foundation grant will allow the accelerator to be upgraded in stages from 2019.
Collaborators include the University of Kansas, University of Illinois at Chicago, Rutgers University, Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, Purdue University Calumet, University of Notre Dame, and Northeastern University.
According to the university, UNL’s role will be to build new modules for the pixel detector capable of taking 40 million images a second at a total resolution of more than 120 million pixels.
Dominguez called the grant a first step with a lot of exciting and stressful work ahead.
“I got an email from one of my colleagues that I respect very much at Princeton who has similar cooperative agreement and he said, ‘Aaron, congratulations, you’re troubles have finally begun,’” Dominguez said to laughter in the room.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]
AUDIO: UNL Physicist Aaron Dominguez explains the work the $11.5 million NSF grant will fund. [1:45]