5th NEWS-G collaboration meeting in Kingston, ON, Canada – November 29-30, 2018

One and a half years after the last gathering in Kingston, Queen’s University was chosen again to host the 5th edition of the NEWS-G collaboration meeting.

More than 30 collaborators from all over the world (Canada, USA, France, Greece, UK) traveled to Kingston, where the group led by Prof. Gilles Gerbier is based.

The collaboration has seen many changes in 2018, and this event gave new members the opportunity to meet the other teams and to visit the NEWS-G facilities at Queen’s university.

During the 2-day meeting, participants presented on a wide variety of topics and participated in discussions on many aspects of the project, especially the upcoming experiment at SNOLAB.

The meeting concluded with a dinner on the shores of the Cataraqui River, and everyone is looking forward to meeting again in 2019!

Outreach events with NEWS-G

NEWS-G has been recently involved in two outreach events hosted by Queen’s University (Kingston, ON, Canada): Dark Matter Day 2018, and IGnite.



On November 10th the McDonald Institute and Queen’s University co-organized the very successful second annual Dark Matter Day. People were invited to hear talks on the first astronomical hints of Dark Matter’s existence, what it might be made of, and how we are trying to find it. This was followed by tours of the Queen’s University Observatory and the McDonald Institute Visitor Centre, exhibits, fun games and activities.


news-g-ignite-logo-2On November 15th, the McDonald Institute – in collaboration with Queen’s University – launched IGnite (Inspiring Generations through research), a new events series which goal is to showcase the breadth of research happening across the university to all audiences (with a special focus on getting young people interested in science and research). This first open and accessible event (one of a three-part series for the 2018-2019 academic year) featured two celebrated Queen’s researchers:  Dr. Ken Clark and Dr. Jacalyn Duffin. In addition to the exciting talks, students and faculty were presenting experiment demonstrations, research posters, and photographs, providing lots of chances to meet and ask questions with the people behind the research.

The Queen’s NEWS-G team actively participated in these two highly successful events by demonstrating our glass sphere detector  and a laser display.

The glass sphere is a stand-alone Dark Matter detector which allows everyone to see what is inside of the vessel. It functions in the same way as our other spherical detectors: the sphere is filled with gas, and when particles pass through the gas, they can bump into gas atoms and free some electrons, which are pulled towards the sensor at the center of the sphere by the electric field created by the high voltage sensor. These drifting electrons induce electrical pulses upon reaching the sensor.

>>> Learn more about the glass sphere detector.


The laser display is a system developed by NEWS-G at Queen’s University to show what is happening inside the detector. The particle interactions we observe are not able to be seen by the naked eye because of the very small energies involved. To demonstrate the invisible physics occurring in our detectors, this system depicts particle interactions in the sphere with a laser show on a wall or poster. The laser illustrates particles colliding with a gas atom, creating small dots which represent the electrons that will drift toward the sensor at the center of the sphere. Upon reaching the sensor, these electrons will give rise to an electric pulse that will also be drawn by the laser as the electrons go down the rod.

>>> Learn more about the laser display


Congratulations Dan!


Gilles Gerbier & Daniel Durnford

After two years in Kingston under the supervision of Gilles Gerbier at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON, Canada), NEWS-G member Daniel Durnford graduated from his Master’s program yesterday (November 13th ) at fall convocation … congratulations Dan!

Dan will soon be starting his PhD at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada) in January, under the supervision of Marie-Cécile Piro, another NEWS-G member. His work will focus on analysis and simulations for the next phase of the experiment at SNOLAB.


Newest members @ NEWS-G (II)


“I recently joined the NEWS-G collaboration to work on the purification of the various gases and on data analysis for this dark matter search. In my career, I have had the opportunity to work with several high-profile teams, using various detection techniques, such as: bubble chambers at SNOLAB in Canada, high purity germanium crystals at very low temperatures (mK) at LSM in France, and a dual-phase xenon time projection chamber (TPC) at LNGS in Italy. This has given me broad physical and technical expertise in low background particle physics experiments. I am intrigued by exploring physics beyond the standard model. I hope to achieve this by developing new detection technologies, and pushing the limits of current technologies by improving detector performance, such as energy resolution and find novel techniques for reducing the background of the detectors. My goal is to find a way to by-pass the irreducible neutrino floor background, which all dark matter experiment will face in the near future. ”    –.Marie-Cécile Piro, Assistant Professor


news-g-stefanie-langrock“I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at SNOLAB working under the supervision of Pierre Gorel. My work for NEWS-G will be focusing on the design of a Ar-37 calibration source to meet the requirements for radioactive sources at SNOLAB. Additionally to the source development, I will work on understanding the background contributions present at the SNOLAB underground facility with the aid of GEANT4 simulations.” – Stefanie Langrock, Post-Doctoral Fellow


news-g-alex-rolland“I am currently a student at École Centrale Paris, doing a one year internship as a visiting research student for NEWS-G, under the supervision of Gilles Gerbier at Queen’s University. My main role will be to help with the R&D work and experiments at the Queen’s lab. I will also participate in data analysis preparation before the installation at SNOLAB and outreach projects related to dark matter research. ” – Alex Rolland, Visiting Research Student

NEWS-G students @ SNOLAB

Last week, the NEWS-G summer students of Queen’s University had the opportunity to visit SNOLAB.

SNOLAB is one of the deepest laboratories in the world. Located in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury Ontario, Canada (400km north of Toronto), this 2km underground astroparticle physics lab hosts large experiments specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics, including NEWS-G.


Dressed in their flashy yellow mine gear, heavy safety boots and orange helmets, our students were ready to take the “cage” (elevator) which would bring them 2km underground at a speed of 40km/h. As the nickel mine is still active, they had to share the lift with miners who stopped at others levels of the underground labyrinth.

After that, they still had to walk along the 1km tunnel that led them to the laboratory entrance where another interesting experience was waiting for them. To pass from the dirty mine to the clean 5000m2 laboratory, strict cleanliness policies are enforced; all people entering SNOLAB need to stop by the shower, which is the boundary between the dirty and clean sides, and then put on special clean-room clothes.

Once in the lab, the students had the chance to participate in a guided tour with Pierre Gorel, our collaborator at SNOLAB, who showed them the different experiments as well as the future site of the NEWS-G SPC which should arrive in spring 2019.



news-g-snolab tour-will-salmonFor me, this tour of SNOLAB was an unforgettable and irreplaceable experience for a multitude of reasons. Simply having the opportunity to go into an active mine was amazing! The trip down was unlike anything I had ever been a part of, crammed into a dark elevator with 20-30 other people, ears popping several times a minute due to the pressure change, an adventure in itself. But the real adventure only began when we got out of the elevator. After passing through to the clean side of the laboratory, the environment is so different it is difficult to believe it can exist 2km underground. Walking around the facilities, I truly got an idea of the incredible amount of work that went into creating this marvel of modern science. The experiments are so grand in scale and quality, they give the feeling that any feat can be accomplished with enough effort and dedication. I am intensely appreciative to have had this inspiring experience, and I feel especially motivated for my future scientific efforts.” – Will Salmon


news-g-snolab-tour-alan-goodmanTouring the SNOLAB underground facilities was thrilling and enlightening. As the tour began, our descent into the mine and our slow meander down towards the laboratory resembled what one would generally expect from an active mine: dark, wet, and unrefined. When we entered the lab, everything abruptly changed; the walls were smooth, the climate was controlled, and I soon forgot that I was underground at all. It was incredible to be able to witness first-hand the cultivation of such a precise and rigorously maintained environment in the most unlikely of circumstances, and I am grateful to have had the experience.” – Alan Goodman


news-g-snolab-tour-carter-garrahThroughout our tour of SNOLAB, I often found myself in awe of the sheer engineering marvel that I was witnessing before me. The amount of resources and passion for research that has gone into the ongoing construction of a facility in such an inhospitable environment was very inspiring. Despite a ride on the infamous “Cage,” and a 1.5 km hike through an active nickel mine, it was all too easy to find myself completely forgetting that I was 2 km underground once inside the smooth white-grey walls of SNOLAB. The journey down was not the most comfortable, having to wear borrowed mining gear and go through a thorough cleaning prior to entering the lab. Thankfully the cool temperatures inside the facility more than made up for it. SNOLAB had a sense of camaraderie; everyone that our group encountered was friendly and eager to answer all of our curiosities, including our excellent tour guides Blaire and Pierre. I was most excited to see the future location of NEWS-G’s SPC, whose empty corner appeared minuscule next to the monstrous water tanks of the neighbouring DEAP-3600 and MiniCLEAN experiments. Nevertheless, I am very excited to see the future installation and development of NEWS-G inside SNOLAB. I am grateful for the opportunity of getting to experience SNOLAB firsthand, it left quite the impression on me – so much so that it warranted the purchase of a souvenir toque!” – Carter Garrah