Neutrino telescope KM3NeT receives 12.7 Million Euro NWO grant
KM3NeT is selected as one of the ten top research facilities in NWO’s National Roadmap for Large-scale Research Infrastructure. Leiden physicist Dorothea Samtleben is the deputy program leader of Nikhef’s KM3NeT group.
Neutrino telescope KM3NeT is currently being built in the Mediterranean Sea off the shores of Toulon and Sicily. It uses more than a cubic kilometer of sea water to collect neutrinos, which easily penetrate through any material and only rarely interact with other particles. Since the start of the first design study in 2006, The Netherlands have played an important role in this project, with collaborating institutions Nikhef, NIOZ, TNO, KVI-CART, University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, VU University and Radboud University.
‘With the new grant of 12.7 million euro, we can build a sizeable fraction of the detector’, says Samtleben. ‘We are very happy that NWO recognizes the important Dutch contributions in successfully developing and demonstrating the design for KM3NeT. The neutrino detections will widely open a whole new window on the Universe. They give us insight into for example the Universe’s dense regions. And we hope to get answers on open fundamental questions about the nature of the neutrino masses.’
The KM3NeT collaboration consists of 51 institutes and universities from 15 countries. Its detector succeeds the smaller neutrino telescope ANTARES. At the moment, the construction of all detector components is well underway. In the end, KM3NeT will consist of more than 300 strings, each with 18 light sensitive detector units, so-called Digital Optical Modules (DOMs). The detector will also include a large network of temperature sensors and hydrophones. The Dutch research vessel Pelagia will be used to deploy the telescope in the sea. Both sites, in Toulon and Sicily, are expected to be fully deployed and operational within five years.