Brookhaven chemist Minfang Yeh wins DPF 2021

image: Minfang Yeh leads the Neutrino and Nuclear Chemistry Group, part of the Chemistry Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
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Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

UPTON, NY—Minfang Yeh, principal investigator at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, has won the 2021 Instrumentation Award from the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields (DPF).

The award honors Yeh’s pioneering work in the development and production of high-performance water-based liquid scintillators for particle physics experiments, including metal-charged scintillators for rare process experiments. This development has made possible a new generation of large detectors to study neutrinos – elusive subatomic particles that flooded the universe moments after the Big Bang and which may offer clues to a range of fundamental physics questions.

“I am very happy that the importance of the liquid scintillator detector is recognized”,
Yes said. “It has been used in many ways, especially for neutrino experiments.”

Neutrinos carry no electrical charge, weigh very little, and very rarely interact with other matter. These hard-to-detect particles are abundant and produced by many sources such as the sun, accelerators and nuclear reactors.

Liquid scintillators allow scientists to distinguish signals produced by neutrinos from background particles entering the detectors. Water-based liquid scintillators developed by Yeh and the neutrino and nuclear chemistry group he leads in Brookhaven’s Chemistry Division provide a cost-effective means of detection for large-scale physics experiments.

“In addition to studying neutrinos for basic science research, we can also study neutrinos for nuclear reactor safeguards to monitor nuclear radiation remotely,” Yeh said. “The water-based liquid scintillator that we have developed is for this purpose. This is just one implication of neutrino research.

Yeh’s group has designed detectors for probes into neutrino oscillation – the ability of particles to “change shape” between three forms (electron, muon and tau) – as well as dark matter research, activities nuclear non-proliferation, double beta decay research and medical research. imaging studies.

Yeh is also leading a project to build a 30-ton water-based liquid scintillator design demonstrator to study the feasibility of using the kiloton-scale medium for future non-proliferation activities and experiments. of particle physics. The team, which includes scientists and engineers from chemistry, physics and instrumentation groups, expects testing to begin in 2023.

His group is also part of several international collaborations such as the Precision Oscillation and Spectrum Experiment (PROSPECT) – an experiment exploring antineutrinos emitted from nuclear reactors. The team developed a unique lithium-doped scintillator that emits light in response to interactions with subatomic particles.

Yeh joined the chemistry division of Brookhaven Lab in 2000. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tunghai University in Taiwan and a master’s degree in chemistry from Eastern Michigan University. He got his doctorate. in nuclear physics from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky.

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