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Fundamental & Computational Sciences Directorate

Nuclear and Particle Physics Research Area

Nuclear and Particle Physics photo

Physics has two working models of reality: Einstein's general relativity theory dealing with space, time, and gravity; and the Standard Model, which incorporates three fundamental interactions between the particles making up all matter, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Researchers are exploring the "strong" and "weak" forces to get a well-rounded understanding of the universe.

Guided by the Standard Model, weak interaction physics at PNNL focuses on experimental measurements of lepton number violation, neutrino mass, dark matter, heavy quark physics, and astrophysics. We focus on breakthroughs in the field by merging our interdisciplinary team with technical expertise uniquely suited for experimental studies of rare processes.

Unique capabilities in ultra-low background radiation detection, signature science, and high performance computing contribute to PNNL's growing expertise in nuclear and particle physics that seek to answer the most fundamental questions about the universe.

PNNL is engaged in:

  • Development of cutting edge germanium (Ge) detectors for environmental monitoring, national security and fundamental physics research
  • Searching for signals from dark matter interactions via the CoGeNT Dark Matter Experiment
  • Using signature capability in ultra-low level counting to help search for a rare form of radioactive decay called "neutrinoless double-beta decay" —the focus of the Majorana Project
  • Collaborating on Project X with a specific focus on a Nuclear Energy Experimental Station
  • Providing high-performance computational capabilities to support Belle scientists involved in the Belle Particle Physics experiment.
  • Engaging in longer term programs such as the Mu2e experiment at Fermilab, providing radio frequency and microwave engineering to Project 8, contributing to the science case for the proposed International Linear Collider particle accelerator, and being involved in detector development for future particle and nuclear physics experiments.

For more information, please see the Nuclear and Particle Physics website.

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