Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Physics

Major Professor

Yuri A. Kamyshkov

Committee Members

Yuri Efremenko, Thomas Handler, Stephen Spanier, Lawrence Townsend

Abstract

Neutrinos are the most numerous and least understood particle in the universe. In the last few decades numerous experiments have been devoted to discovering their properties. The Double Chooz experiment was designed to make a precise measurement of θ13 [theta 13], the neutrino mixing parameter which describes flavor oscillations governing short baselines. To accomplish this measurement, two identical neutrino detectors have been deployed at a near and far baseline outside two commercial nuclear reactors. The neutrino flux and spectrum at the near and far detector sites will determine the disappearance of anti-neutrinos created inside the reactors.

I have contributed to the construction and commissioning of the near detector. I will describe the quality assurance tests of photomultiplier tubes which comprise the near detector. Additionally, I will describe quality checks of the first physics data coming from the completed detector, including neutrino selection and background determination. With two high quality detectors, Double Chooz will provide a precision measurement of θ13 in the coming year.

Finally, I demonstrate the ability of two identical neutrino detectors to locate a hidden nuclear reactor. As a real-world example, I use the initial data from the two Double Chooz neutrino detectors to successfully constrain the location of the reactor. Locating a hidden reactor is of interest to the nuclear non-proliferation community.

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