NEWS-G Progress at SNOLAB

On January 28th, 2020, NEWS-G collaborators from Kingston (Queen’s University) and Edmonton (University of Alberta) connected in Sudbury, Ontario to prepare for the installation of the detector at SNOLAB. Components of the detector were cleaned and prepared for the journey underground, installation logistics were reviewed and finalized, and the graduate students, along with Dr. Gilles Gerbier, received important health and safety training to allow them to work in the mine over the coming months.

Below PhD Candidate Marie Vidal narrates photographs taken onsite, beginning with the (above-ground) cleaning process.

Each component of the detector has to be cleaned and re-packaged before being shipped underground. Here you can see small pieces of lead that will later be assembled into the detector’s shield.

The glove box is a very important component of the detector. Just as with everything else, it too needs a thorough cleaning before it can go down into the lab.


Our task force team: on the right (1st table) you can see us cleaning the lead pieces with a solvent and in the background (2nd table) we are drying and wrapping the pieces so that they remain dust-free.


More cleaning and wrapping detector parts in plastic.
Foreground: George Savvidis (PhD student, Queen’s University) Background: Alexis Brossard (Postdoctoral Fellow, Queen’s University)


We received extensive training which taught us how to move safely through the Vale-owned mine in order to access SNOLAB. We also received on-site health and safety and emergency preparedness training within SNOLAB.

On January 29th our mine training began at 6:00 am. After 1.5 hours of above-ground training, we took the ‘cage’ down into the mine. The cage took us 2 km underground, and then we walked over a kilometer, stopping to inspect every safety station, until we reached SNOLAB. The mine is hot, humid and the pressure is 30% higher than at the surface of the Earth, making work underground even more tiring.


Holding their lunches in black bags and awaiting their descent into the mine.
Left to right in yellow: Marie Vidal (PhD Candidate, Queen’s University), Dan Durnford (PhD Student, University of Alberta) and Jean-Marie Coquillat (MA Student, Queen’s University)

Left to right: Alexis Brossard, Dan Durnford, Jean-Marie Coquillat,
Gilles Gerbier, Marie Vidal and George Savvidis

Just steps away from the entrance to SNOLAB. Everyone must shower and change their clothing before they can enter further.


Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in front of the NEWS-G sphere
Left to right: Alexis Brossard, Marie Vidal, Jean-Marie Coquillat, Dan Durnford and George Savvidis

After a tour of some of the other physics experiments at SNOLAB (SuperCDMS/CUTE, SNO+, DEAP) we were able to finally lay eyes on the site where our experiment, NEWS-G, will be constructed.

All in all it was a great and productive trip!

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