Special Issue "Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics"

A special issue of Universe (ISSN 2218-1997).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021) | Viewed by 8800

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marco Selvi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Sezione di Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Interests: experimental particle physics; neutrino physics; particle detectors; neutrinoless double beta decay; neutrino oscillations; neutrino interactions; dark matter; direct dark matter detectors; low-background techniques; underground physics
Prof. Dr. Francesco Terranova
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Physics, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, I-20126 Milano, Italy
2. Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare - Sezione di Milano Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 3, I-20126 Milano, Italy
Interests: experimental particle physics; neutrino physics; accelerator neutrino beams; particle detectors; neutrinoless double beta decay; cryogenics; laser-plasma acceleration; neutrino oscillations; neutrino interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Universe addresses the international community working at Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics. Italian labs and facilities play a pivotal role in the fields that are the core of this journal: gravitational waves, dark matter and rare event searches, neutrino astronomy and underground physics. The experiments hosted at LNGS (Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso), LNS/KM3NeT (Laboratori Nazionali del Sud), LNF (Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati), LNL (Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro), and EGO (European Gravitational Observatory) are among the most sensitive detectors in the world and foster a broad community of experimentalists and theoreticians. The goal of this Special Issue is twofold: review the most important discoveries achieved in these Research Centers in the last few years and discuss the future perspectives. This is particularly timely since the results of observational cosmology and high-energy accelerators have completely reshaped our research aims and raise new questions that require the development of novel approaches and experimental techniques. They represent both a challenge and an opportunity for existing facilities to broaden their research scope and blur the traditional boundaries among disciplines.

We invite original research articles, reviews, and new experimental proposals on the topics described above to this Special Issue. We also look forward to contributions that raise proposals and discussions on the directions of fundamental physics in Italy and advance in a significant manner our understanding of the field.     

Dr. Marco Selvi
Prof. Dr. Francesco Terranova
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Universe is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Gravitational waves
  • Direct detection of dark matter
  • Neutrinoless double decay
  • Detection of supernova neutrinos
  • Neutrino astronomy
  • Dark matter candidates
  • Multimessenger astronomy
  • Astroparticle physics

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics
Universe 2022, 8(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe8020082 - 27 Jan 2022
Viewed by 606
Abstract
This Special Issue of Universe addresses the international community working at the Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics, Italian labs and facilities playing a pivotal role in the core fields of this journal, such as gravitational waves, dark matter and rare event searches, [...] Read more.
This Special Issue of Universe addresses the international community working at the Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics, Italian labs and facilities playing a pivotal role in the core fields of this journal, such as gravitational waves, dark matter and rare event searches, neutrino astronomy, and underground physics [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)

Research

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Article
Dark Matter Searches at LNF
Universe 2021, 7(7), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7070236 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 776
Abstract
In recent years, the absence of experimental evidence for searches dedicated to dark matter has triggered the development of new ideas on the nature of this entity, which manifests at the cosmological level. Some of these can be explored by small experiments with [...] Read more.
In recent years, the absence of experimental evidence for searches dedicated to dark matter has triggered the development of new ideas on the nature of this entity, which manifests at the cosmological level. Some of these can be explored by small experiments with a short timescale and an investment that can be afforded by national laboratories, such as the Frascati one. This is the main reason why a laboratory that, traditionally, was focused in particle physics studies with accelerators has begun intense activity in this field of research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review

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Review
Advanced Virgo: Status of the Detector, Latest Results and Future Prospects
Universe 2021, 7(9), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7090322 - 30 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 965
Abstract
The Virgo detector, based at the EGO (European Gravitational Observatory) and located in Cascina (Pisa), played a significant role in the development of the gravitational-wave astronomy. From its first scientific run in 2007, the Virgo detector has constantly been upgraded over the years; [...] Read more.
The Virgo detector, based at the EGO (European Gravitational Observatory) and located in Cascina (Pisa), played a significant role in the development of the gravitational-wave astronomy. From its first scientific run in 2007, the Virgo detector has constantly been upgraded over the years; since 2017, with the Advanced Virgo project, the detector reached a high sensitivity that allowed the detection of several classes of sources and to investigate new physics. This work reports the main hardware upgrades of the detector and the main astrophysical results from the latest five years; future prospects for the Virgo detector are also presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review
GERDA and LEGEND: Probing the Neutrino Nature and Mass at 100 meV and beyond
Universe 2021, 7(9), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7090314 - 25 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1025
Abstract
The Gerda (GERmanium Detector Array) project, located at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), was started in 2005, a few years after the claim of evidence for the neutrinoless double beta decay (0νββ) of 76Ge to the [...] Read more.
The Gerda (GERmanium Detector Array) project, located at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), was started in 2005, a few years after the claim of evidence for the neutrinoless double beta decay (0νββ) of 76Ge to the ground state of 76Se: it is an ultra-rare process whose detection would directly establish the Majorana nature of the neutrino and provide a measurement of its mass and mass hierarchy. The aim of Gerda was to confirm or disprove the claim by an increased sensitivity experiment. After establishing the new technology of Ge detectors operated bare in liquid Argon and since 2011, Gerda efficiently collected data searching for 0νββ of 76Ge, first deploying the 76Ge-enriched detectors from two former experiments and later new detectors with enhanced signal-to-background rejection, produced from freshly 76Ge-enriched material. Since then, the Gerda setup has been upgraded twice, first in 2013–2015 and later in 2018. The period before 2013 is Phase I and that after 2015 is Phase II. Both the Gerda setup and the analysis tools evolved along the project lifetime, allowing to achieve the remarkable average energy resolution of ∼3.6 and ∼2.6 keV for Coaxial Germanium (Coax) detectors and for Broad Energy Germanium (BEGe), respectively, and the background index of 5.21.3+1.6 · 104 cts/(keV·kg·yr) in a 230 keV net range centered at Qββ. No evidence of the 0νββ decay at Qββ = 2039.1 keV has been found, hence the limit of 1.8·1026 yr on the half-life (T1/20ν) at 90% C.L. was set with the exposure of 127.2 kg·yr. The corresponding limit range for the effective Majorana neutrino mass mee has been set to 79–180 meV. The Gerda performances in terms of background index, energy resolution and exposure are the best achieved so far by 76Ge double beta decay experiments. In Phase II, Gerda succeeded in operating in a background free regime and set a world record. In 2017, the Legend Collaboration was born from the merging of the Gerda and Majorana Collaborations and resources with the aim to further improve the Gerda sensitivity. First, the Legend200 project, with a mass of up to 200 kg of 76Ge-enriched detectors, aims to further improve the background index down to <0.6 · 103 cts/(keV·kg·yr) to explore the Inverted Hierarchy region of the neutrino mass ordering, then the Legend1000 (1 ton of 76Ge-enriched) will probe the Normal Hierarchy. In this paper, we describe the Gerda experiment, its evolution, the data analysis flow, a selection of its results and technological achievements, and finally the design, features and challenges of Legend, the Gerda prosecutor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review
The Xenon Road to Direct Detection of Dark Matter at LNGS: The XENON Project
Universe 2021, 7(8), 313; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7080313 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1212
Abstract
Dark matter is a milestone in the understanding of the Universe and a portal to the discovery of new physics beyond the Standard Model of particles. The direct search for dark matter has become one of the most active fields of experimental physics [...] Read more.
Dark matter is a milestone in the understanding of the Universe and a portal to the discovery of new physics beyond the Standard Model of particles. The direct search for dark matter has become one of the most active fields of experimental physics in the last few decades. Liquid Xenon (LXe) detectors demonstrated the highest sensitivities to the main dark matter candidates (Weakly Interactive Massive Particles, WIMP). The experiments of the XENON project, located in the underground INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Italy, are leading the field thanks to the dual-phase LXe time projection chamber (TPC) technology. Since the first prototype XENON10 built in 2005, each detector of the XENON project achieved the highest sensitivity to WIMP dark matter. XENON increased the LXe target mass by nearly a factor 400, up to the 5.9 t of the current XENONnT detector installed at LNGS in 2020. Thanks to an unprecedentedly low background level, XENON1T (predecessor of XENONnT) set the world best limits on WIMP dark matter to date, for an overall boost of more than 3 orders of magnitude to the experimental sensitivity since the XENON project started. In this work, we review the principles of direct dark matter detection with LXe TPCs, the detectors of the XENON project, the challenges posed by background mitigation to ultra-low levels, and the main results achieved by the XENON project in the search for dark matter. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review
Optical Polarimetry for Fundamental Physics
Universe 2021, 7(7), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7070252 - 20 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1129
Abstract
Sensitive magneto-optical polarimetry was proposed by E. Iacopini and E. Zavattini in 1979 to detect vacuum electrodynamic non-linearity, in particular Vacuum Magnetic Birefringence (VMB). This process is predicted in QED via the fluctuation of electron–positron virtual pairs but can also be due to [...] Read more.
Sensitive magneto-optical polarimetry was proposed by E. Iacopini and E. Zavattini in 1979 to detect vacuum electrodynamic non-linearity, in particular Vacuum Magnetic Birefringence (VMB). This process is predicted in QED via the fluctuation of electron–positron virtual pairs but can also be due to hypothetical Axion-Like Particles (ALPs) and/or MilliCharged Particles (MCP). Today ALPs are considered a strong candidate for Dark Matter. Starting in 1992 the PVLAS collaboration, financed by INFN, Italy, attempted to measure VMB conceptually following the original 1979 scheme based on an optical cavity permeated by a time-dependent magnetic field and heterodyne detection. Two setups followed differing basically in the magnet: the first using a rotating superconducting 5.5 T dipole magnet at the Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro, Legnaro, Italy and the second using two rotating permanent 2.5 T dipole magnets at the INFN section of Ferrara. At present PVLAS is the experiment which has set the best limit in VMB reaching a noise floor within a factor 7 of the predicted QED signal: Δn(QED)=2.5×1023 @ 2.5 T. It was also shown that the noise floor was due to the optical cavity and a larger magnet is the only solution to increase the signal to noise ratio. The PVLAS experiment ended at the end of 2018. A new effort, [email protected], which plans to use a spare LHC dipole magnet at CERN with a new modified optical scheme, is now being proposed. In this review, a detailed description of the PVLAS effort and the comprehension of its limits leading to a new proposal will be given. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review
Borexino Results on Neutrinos from the Sun and Earth
Universe 2021, 7(7), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7070231 - 06 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1127
Abstract
Borexino is a 280-ton liquid scintillator detector located at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy. Since the start of its data-taking in May 2007, it has provided several measurements of low-energy neutrinos from various sources. At the base of its success [...] Read more.
Borexino is a 280-ton liquid scintillator detector located at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy. Since the start of its data-taking in May 2007, it has provided several measurements of low-energy neutrinos from various sources. At the base of its success lie unprecedented levels of radio-purity and extensive thermal stabilization, both resulting from a years-long effort of the collaboration. Solar neutrinos, emitted in the Hydrogen-to-Helium fusion in the solar core, are important for the understanding of our star, as well as neutrino properties. Borexino is the only experiment that has performed a complete spectroscopy of the pp chain solar neutrinos (with the exception of the hep neutrinos contributing to the total flux at 105 level), through the detection of pp, 7Be, pep, and 8B solar neutrinos and has experimentally confirmed the existence of the CNO fusion cycle in the Sun. Borexino has also detected geoneutrinos, antineutrinos from the decays of long-lived radioactive elements inside the Earth, that can be exploited as a new and unique tool to study our planet. This paper reviews the most recent Borexino results on solar and geoneutrinos, from highlighting the key elements of the analyses up to the discussion and interpretation of the results for neutrino, solar, and geophysics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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Review
Astro-Particle Physics at INFN
Universe 2021, 7(7), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe7070224 - 04 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
In Italy, INFN coordinates the research in the field of astro-particle physics. The supported experimental activities include the study of the cosmic radiation, the search of gravitational waves, the study of dark universe, general and quantum physics, and the study of the neutrino [...] Read more.
In Italy, INFN coordinates the research in the field of astro-particle physics. The supported experimental activities include the study of the cosmic radiation, the search of gravitational waves, the study of dark universe, general and quantum physics, and the study of the neutrino properties. A rich program of experiments installed on the earth, in the space, and underground or underwater is being supported to provide a possible answer to some of the most relevant open questions of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. A short overview of the ongoing effort is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Italian Research Facilities for Fundamental Physics)
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