Fermilab's neutrino experiment MicroBooNE is beginning the full construction phase for the detector, after DOE announced the official Critical Decision 3b approval on March 29.
"This is a significant milestone for the MicroBooNE project," said project manager Gina Rameika, noting that the next step in the DOE CD process will be CD 4, which is approval to start operations, planned for mid-2014.
In the last phase of the project, the MicroBooNE collaboration began acquiring precision-made parts for the detector from institutions including Brookhaven National Laboratory, Syracuse University and Yale University. Soon the team will begin assembling those pieces.
The inner time projection chamber, which will provide three-dimensional reconstructions of neutrino events, will soon begin assembly within the DZero building, a former experiment hall for the Tevatron. When this is finished, the 33-foot-long TPC will slide into a cryostat-cooling chamber and move to its new housing at the Liquid Argon Test Facility, currently under construction at Fermilab. Once there, scientists will begin tracking neutrinos with liquid argon, allowing high sensitivity for the experiment.
"We'll push the TPC into the cryostat, load it onto a truck and drive it really, really slowly to LArTF," said Jen Raaf, the physicist managing the assembly process. "It's like driving a school bus onto a wide-load tanker truck."