SNOLAB

Queen's University, Lively, Ontario
Area(s) of Expertise

SNOLAB is an international facility for underground science; it is an expansion of the original facilities constructed for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) solar neutrino experiment. The primary focus of the science program includes solar neutrinos, supernova neutrinos, neutrino-less double beta decay and dark matter searches. SNOLAB supports eight projects covering these research fields, including various aspects of the dark matter interaction parameter space, and both neutrino source and intrinsic physics studies. Projects range in size up to kiloton detectors.

While particle astrophysics is the principle focus for SNOLAB, there is a growing interest among other scientific fields in exploiting deep underground laboratories and their associated infrastructure. In particular, there have been growing developments in the fields of mining innovation, where SNOLAB supports data analytics for mining innovation, and biology/genetics, where SNOLAB supports projects studying the impact of underground low radiation environments on biological systems.

The great depth at which SNOLAB is located is required to shield these sensitive detection systems from the ubiquitous cosmic radiations that bombard the surface of the planet. By placing 2km (6000m water equivalent) of rock between the detectors and the surface, these cosmic rays are sufficiently attenuated, by a factor of 50 million down to one cosmic ray muon every day per 4m2, so that the rare and exquisite signals from the science of interest can be separated from the signatures from other backgrounds.
SNOLAB is unique in the world because it is run as a CLASS-2000 Clean Room and low-background facility (including cosmic rays).  The laboratory is located 6800 feet underground in an active mine, which requires immense expertise from the engineering and logistics teams to maintain the cleanliness protocols at all times.

SNOLAB also has multiple germanium detectors used to measure background radiation level in materials, an ultra pure water plant that produces incredibly clean H2O, a precision radon gas measuring system and a newly constructed scintillator processing plant.

What the facility does

Underground research laboratory specializing in dark matter, neutrino studies, low background counting and supernovae detection.

Research Services

Low-background counting, Class-2000 clean room space, low background facility space (including cosmic rays), ultra pure water production, scientist and engineering expertise in constructing clean laboratories, SNOLAB low-background data repository, sensitive radon gas measurements, analytical services.

Sectors of Application
  • Clean technology
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Mining, minerals and metals

Name of specialized lab

Name of equipment

Description of function

SNOLAB

Ultra pure water plant

Production of highly pure H2O

 

Germanium counters

Material screening and counting system

 

Scintillator processing plant

Production and maintenance of LAB (linear alkyl benzene) scintillator

 

Radon emanation chamber

Sensitive radon measurements

 

Low -ackground data repository

SNOLAB maintains a database in a spreadsheet format for each material. The data is shown in units of mBq/kg or pp(b or m)

 

CLASS 2000 clean room

Facility that maintains a cleanliness level of 2000 particles above 0.5mm /ft3 and 2 km of rock overburden (6000 m water equivalent)

  • Carleton University
  • Laurentian University
  • Queen’s University
  • University of Alberta
  • Université de Montréal
  • Bubble Technology Industries Inc.
  • Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation
  • MIRARCO Mining Innovation
  • TRIUMF
  • Canadian Light Source
  • Perimeter Institute
  • University of Toronto