ISU’s Mayly Sanchez part of the team developing the next-generation neutrino detector

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Assistant Professor Mayly Sanchez

Physicists from around the globe are planning to shoot the world’s most intense beam of neutrinos from Illinois, underground through Iowa, hundreds of miles to a former gold mine in South Dakota. And Iowa State University’s Mayly Sanchez is part of the research team.

Sanchez, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is working to develop the next generation of detectors to pick up the trail of neutrinos, subatomic particles that are among the most abundant in the universe and normally race through matter without leaving a trace.

Her work is supported by a five-year, $709,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program.

The grant allows Sanchez to contribute to the proposed Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment – a $900 million collaboration of 300-plus researchers led by three U.S. Department of Energy laboratories. The experiment would send a neutrino beam from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., to the Homestake Mine in Lead, S.D., to see how the neutrinos change over distance.

Sanchez, who was honored in 2012 by the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, is working to develop photodetectors for a proposed neutrino water Cherenkov detector as big as a 20-story building. The detector would be built deep underground at the Homestake Mine.

Sanchez is also a physicist with the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.