T2K Group Shares Breakthrough Prize

The T2K collaboration, which include members from the University of Pittsburgh (Faculty: Steve Dytman, Donna Naples, Vittorio Paolone, Research Physicist: Istvan Danko, and Graduate Student: Damon Hansen), have been awarded the prestigious Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics, for their role in the discovery and study of neutrino oscillation.

The prize, presented by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, was awarded “for the fundamental discovery of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics”. The prize is valued at 3 million USD, and is shared with four other international experimental collaborations studying neutrino oscillation: The Daya Bay, KamLAND, SNO, and Super-Kamiokande scientific collaborations.  The T2K collaboration is named together with the K2K collaboration for its share of the prize. 

The award was presented at a ceremony at the NASA Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California. The ceremony was broadcast live in the U.S. on the National Geographic Channel, and was hosted by comedian Seth Macfarlane. A one-hour version of the broadcast is scheduled for Fox on Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. ET.

T2K is an accelerator-based long-baseline neutrino experiment in Japan.  It uses the J-PARC Main Ring proton accelerator to create an intense beam of muon neutrinos.  The neutrinos are directed to the Super-Kamiokande detector in the Kamioka mine deep inside Mt Ikeno, 295 km away from J-PARC. T2K's citation for the prize was given for the observation of electron neutrino appearance in the muon neutrino beam, which is the first observation of the appearance of a neutrino flavour. This discovery sets the stage for the study of differences in the neutrino oscillation process relative to their antiparticles (antineutrinos), called CP violation, that may elucidate how the universe came to be matter dominated. T2K has recently started data-taking with an antineutrino beam to study antineutrino oscillations.

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