U.S.-India sign major agreement to expand sci-tech collaboration

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, left, and Indian Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu, right, signed an agreement on April 16, in New Delhi, opening the door for continued cooperation on neutrino research in both countries. In attendance were Hema Ramamoorthi, chief of staff of the U.S. DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster. (Photo: Fermilab)

Earlier today, April 16, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and India’s Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu signed an agreement in New Delhi to expand the two countries’ collaboration on world-leading science and technology projects.

The agreement opens the way for jointly advancing cutting-edge neutrino science projects under way in both countries: the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) with the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) hosted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab and the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy said.

The LBNF/DUNE brings together scientists from around the world to discover the role that tiny particles known as neutrinos play in the universe. More than 1,000 scientists from over 170 institutions in 31 countries work on LBNF/DUNE and celebrated its groundbreaking in July 2017. The project will use Fermilab’s powerful particle accelerators to send the world’s most intense beam of high-energy neutrinos to massive neutrino detectors that will explore their interactions with matter.

INO scientists will observe neutrinos that are produced in Earth’s atmosphere to answer questions about the properties of these elusive particles. Scientists from more than 20 institutions are working on INO.

“The LBNF/DUNE project hosted by the Department of Energy’s Fermilab is an important priority for the DOE and America’s leadership in science, in collaboration with our international partners,” Secretary Perry is quoted saying in the press release. “We are pleased to expand our partnership with India in neutrino science and look forward to making discoveries in this promising area of research.”

Scientists from the United States and India have a long history of scientific collaboration, including the discovery of the top quark at Fermilab, DOE said.

“India has a rich tradition of discoveries in basic science,” said Atomic Energy Secretary Basu. “We are pleased to expand our accelerator science collaboration with the U.S. to include the science for neutrinos. Science knows no borders, and we value our Indian scientists working hand-in-hand with our American colleagues. The pursuit of knowledge is a true human endeavor.”

This agreement aims to build on the two countries’ existing collaboration on particle accelerator technologies. In 2013, DOE and India’s Atomic Energy Agency signed an agreement authorizing the joint development and construction of particle accelerator components in preparation for projects at Fermilab and in India. This collaborative work includes the training of Indian scientists in the United States and India’s development and prototyping of components for upgrades to Fermilab’s particle accelerator complex for LBNF/DUNE.

The upgrades, known as the Proton Improvement Plan-II (PIP-II), include the construction of a 600-foot-long superconducting linear accelerator at Fermilab. It will be the first ever particle accelerator built in the United States with significant contributions from international partners, including also the UK and Italy. Scientists from four institutions in India – BARC in Mumbai, IUAC in New Delhi, RRCAT in Indore and VECC in Kolkata – are contributing to the design and construction of magnets and superconducting particle accelerator components for PIP-II at Fermilab and the next generation of particle accelerators in India.

Under the new agreement signed today, U.S. and Indian institutions will expand this productive collaboration to include neutrino research projects.