For the first time, some of the world’s most sensitive radiation detection systems and fundamental physics research can be seen from your desktop computer or mobile device.
PNNL recently launched a virtual tour showcasing its Shallow Underground Laboratory (SUL), a facility dedicated in 2011 as part of the $224-million capability replacement project jointly funded by Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The SUL is a one-of-a-kind facility that most people may never get to visit in person in order to protect its sensitive instruments from outside contamination and even the slightest radioactivity.
Scientists in the SUL conduct research which includes the construction of a variety of sensitive detectors that require ultra-low background environments. These can be used for international treaty verification for the Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty to basic science research such as the search for dark matter in the universe or neutrinoless double-beta decay. The virtual tour allows visitors to witness the development of gas proportional counters or germanium detectors with extraordinary detection efficiencies.
To take the SUL virtual tour, access http://tour.pnnl.gov/ and click on the facility marked Shallow Underground Laboratory. Once in the virtual environment, you’ll hear a short introduction and then can self-navigate through the dropdown menu, the map or the arrow to enter through the front door. At any point you can jump to the virtual tour by clicking “View Tour.” At each tour stop, you have the ability to zoom and pan 360 degrees within the laboratories. Short video features, interviews, reference information and more are scattered throughout the tour.
About the photos:
Top (Measurement hall): Scientists use ultra-sensitive germanium detectors to perform low-background measurements on a variety of samples, addressing applications that span from environmental age-dating to international treaty verification.
Bottom (Electroforming): Electroformed parts are fabricated in the Electrochemical Purification Laboratory that was specifically designed to produce radiopure copper.