IRES Track I: Development of the Neutron Optics Parity and Time Violation Experiment in Japan

Grants and Contracts Details


This Track I International Research Experiences for Students proposal is to send three cohorts of six undergraduate science students to Nagoya University, Japan for research and development experiments in conjunction with the existing Japan/US "Neutron Optics Time Reversal EXperiment" (NOPTREX) collaboration, to explain the matter/antimatter asymmetry in the Universe. The six collaborating institutions: University of Kentucky (UK), Indiana University (IU), Ohio University (OU), Berea College, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), and Western Kentucky University (WKU) will recruit participants from the surrounding regions. A unique feature of this proposal is the depth of student pre-training and the duration of the overseas research project. Each institution will train one local participant during the full academic year within their research group to ensure comprehensive preparation for research in Japan. Four of the institutions operate nuclear physics accelerator facilities with neutron sources for student training. The other two, Berea and EKU, are geographically close to UK and possess outstanding undergraduate physics programs that draw undergraduates from rural Kentucky and the Appalachian region. Berea has an active project in undergraduate research evaluation metrics and EKU is developing a new undergraduate research program in nuclear/particle physics. IU, OU, and UK will collaborate with EKU to develop a fast neutron detector and with Berea to develop an optical analogue of the NOPTREX experiment for participant training. As a key pre-training and community-building step, the full cohort of students will gather from each institution at UK for a one-week intensive immersion in neutron physics and Japanese culture before heading to Japan. The students will perform 10 weeks of summer research at Nagoya University and the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) under supervision of Hirohiko Shimizu. They will be mentored by members of his Fundamental Neutron Physics research group at Nagoya University, which is the largest in Japan. They operate a rare university-based accelerator optimized for neutron production, which the students will use to anchor their research projects in combination with their participation in NOPTREX-related measurements at J-PARC. All together the program will provide an integrated full year training experience, including personally mentored research at each local institution during the academic year and an intensive one-week cohort-building boot camp, culminating in an immersive 10-week summer research experience in Japan. Intellectual Merit: The scientific goal of this collaboration is to conduct a new type of sensitive search for time reversal symmetry violation in polarized neutron transmission through polarized nuclei (NOPTREX experiment). The discovery of a new source of time reversal violation in neutron-nucleus interactions would uncover new physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics and could elucidate the origin of the matter/antimatter asymmetry of the Universe. This experiment exploits special properties of low energy neutron-nucleus resonances, which act as a natural amplifier of time reversal violation. The design of the experimental apparatus directly embodies and exploits the principle of motion-reversal symmetry to conduct a sensitive search. The Japanese Spallation Neutron Source (JSNS) at J-PARC is well-suited to host this experiment. Several measurements toward the NOPTREX goals have already been completed both at JSNS and at the LANSCE facility at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL). Students chosen for the program will experience a rich intellectual research experience using the most advanced instrumentation currently available and will gain world-class skills in precision measurements with low-energy neutrons. Broader Impacts: The program will directly train a new generation of talented physicists skilled at working in international collaborations. The small scale of the NOPTREX experiment and its use of techniques from many subfields of physics lends itself to hands-on student participation and the development of a broad understanding of physical principles and experimental techniques. We will use established local networks to especially recruit women and underrepresented minorities. In particular we will recruit from Berea College and other regional universities that have a diverse pool of students and build upon the University of Kentucky''''s successful LSAMP program. To further disseminate the results of this program, upon returning, each participant will present four workshops to K-12 schools surrounding their home institution to indirectly bring the scientific and cultural impact to a much broader population. This will inspire STEM education in Kentucky, Central Appalachia, and the surrounding regions. TPI: 7990115
Effective start/end date8/1/237/31/26


  • National Science Foundation: $294,784.00


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