CAREER: Advancing the Search for Ultra-High-Energy Tau Neutrinos with High-Elevation Radio Detectors

Project: Research project

Project Details


Ultra-high-energy neutrinos are unique astrophysical messengers as they interact only weakly with intervening matter and can therefore be used to probe high energy sources and extreme conditions throughout the universe, and to test physics at energies beyond the standard models. This award will support the development of a novel concept for the detection of the highest energy tau neutrinos. The group at the California Polytechnic State University will design and deploy a prototype detector for a mountaintop telescope sensitive to the radio emission generated when high-energy tau neutrinos interact in the Earth. Undergraduate students will be engaged in all aspects of the project from the initial simulations to detector design, deployment and operation. The group will also engage in efforts to broaden participation among underrepresented groups in physics through both new and existing programs such as the California-Arizona Minority Partnership for Astronomy Research and Education (CAMPARE) and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

This award will support comprehensive optimization studies of the sensitivity and energy threshold of a radio-frequency tau neutrino telescope located on a high-elevation mountain pointed at the horizon. The neutrino telescope will target both the diffuse astrophysical flux of neutrinos as well as neutrinos generated by the highest energy cosmic rays as they propagate through the universe. Simulations as well as site characterization studies will guide the design of the prototype telescope. The prototype will be deployed and a measurement of cosmic ray rates will be used to estimate the expected exposure of a full-scale neutrino telescope. This award will support students from traditionally underrepresented groups with the goal of increasing the diversity of physics majors at the University. In addition to participating in the CAMPARE and LSAMP programs, the group will design and conduct a new workshop to provide lower division students with the skills needed for experimental research and upper division students with teaching experience.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date5/1/203/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $490,453.00


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