# Imperiled Funding Threatens Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment

By Michael Lucibella

Physicists are fighting hard to save the country’s proposed flagship neutrino experiment from a potential death of a thousand cuts. High energy physicists and the Department of Energy have deemed the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) a top priority for the US science program, but looming budget cuts at the agency have prompted numerous reviews and reductions in scope for the project.

At the August High Energy Physics Advisory Panel meeting in Rockville, MD, advisors to the DOE presented three possibilities for the first phase of the proposed neutrino detector. They warned that the scope of the research could be severely undercut by inadequate funding. Scientists ideally want to locate the detector underground and 1300 miles away from the source of the neutrinos, but the budget may not be available to do both.

“It’s a broad and very rich program of science that we want to do,” said Milind Diwan a physicist at Brookhaven National Lab and spokesperson for LBNE. “We want to build a capable large detector and locate it deep.”

The LBNE would make use of a new class of liquid argon neutrino detector located several hundred kilometers from a powerful neutrino beam originating at Fermilab. It would try to find the mass hierarchy in neutrinos, as well as look for evidence of charge parity (CP) violation. If the detectors are located underground, LBNE could also look for evidence of proton decay and neutrinos from a supernova.

The experiment has had a history of financial trouble. Initially, it was conceived as part of a large underground laboratory called DUSEL in the Homestake mine in South Dakota. In December of 2010, the National Science Foundation backed out of the project, and the research was pared to three major underground experiments at the mine, including a dark matter detector and one to look for neutrinoless double beta decay. The Department of Energy balked at the almost $2 billion price tag, and asked the committee for a cheaper option. On August 6, the LBNE Reconfiguration Steering Committee issued its report, which recommended building a 10 kiloton argon surface detector in South Dakota, and a new beamline at Fermilab. The committee had been charged with evaluating different locations and configurations for the experiment. The estimated cost for the committee’s preferred option is about$789 million, with an additional $135 million for locating the detector underground. The other two major options, including a 30-kiloton surface detector at Ash River in Minnesota, and a 15-kiloton underground detector at the Soudan Mine in Minnesota, are both about$100 million cheaper, but have a more limited scientific scope.