University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 32215
Fax: (519) 746-8115
Research Scientist and Manager of Analytical Services at SNOLAB
Dr. Ford specializes in cross-disipline R&D, design, construction, and problem solving in the physical sciences and engineering. Since obtaining his Ph.D. in nuclear physics, he has worked on projects bridging chemical engineering, nuclear detector design, lasers and optics, control systems, and analysis.
SNOLAB is Canada’s international deep underground facility for astroparticle physics, located at the 6800-foot level (about 2 km below ground) in Vale’s Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ontario. The facility was excavated as an expansion of and building on the success of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), which ended data taking in 2006, and was awarded the Nobel Prize to Art McDonald in 2015. The underground space contains 53,000 sq-ft for experiments and supporting infrastructure, and the entire facility is operated as a clean-room to achieve a low radioactivity environment. The depth underground is unprecedented for a facility of this size, and results in a comic ray flux of less than 0.27 μ/m2/day, to allow for the detection of rare particle physics interactions. The scientific program at SNOLAB emphasizes topics in particle astrophysics requiring this increased sensitivity due to the depth and the clean environment. These topics include measurements of low energy solar neutrinos, cosmic dark matter searches, neutrino-less double beta decay, and the detection of geo-neutrinos, supernova neutrinos and reactor neutrinos. Other interdisciplinary fields also make use of the facility, including seismology, studies in geophysics, and the biological study of underground life forms, genomics and bioinformatics. The layout of the laboratory has three large cavities (including the original SNO cavity) for multi-tonne detectors, extensive drift areas for development experiments, a low background counting facility, chemistry lab, and machine shop. Currently hosted experiments include SNO+, DEAP-3600, MiniCLEAN, PICO, HALO, DAMIC, with SuperCDMS, NEWS, and EXO in the engineering design stage. I will describe the facility, the science, the experiments, and future developments, and discuss how students can get involved in this exciting area of underground physics.