T. Denny Sanford on lab: ‘Fantastic!’

Majorana physicist Brandon White of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, suited up for a visit to the Majorana Demonstrator clean room, gets a thumbs up from T. Denny Sanford during a tour of the Davis Campus on Saturday.
Credit: 
Matt Kapust

A number of recent events, accomplishments and milestones at the Sanford Lab are worth noting as September draws to a close. On Saturday, for example, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, whose support has been crucial to the project, inspected the Davis Campus on the 4850 Level. He pronounced the progress, “Fantastic!”

On another front, this week will mark the end of the National Science Foundation funding that enabled the project to take wing in 2007. The NSF provided the resources necessary to create the massive, exhaustively complete “Preliminary Design Report.” This detailed document provides a valuable road map for the development of future underground experiments here. The end of this phase of funding, however, will not be the end of our partnership with the NSF, which continues to support experiments and our education and outreach efforts.

Now the Department of Energy, through Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is supporting our operations. During August the project was reviewed twice to make sure we’re meeting the DOE’s high standards. An environment, health and safety review provided valuable feedback for these programs, and earned the EHS Department kudos for programs already in place. Berkeley Lab’s own review of our operations also gave the Sanford Lab staff high marks for effectiveness.

“Overall, we’re in very good shape,” SDSTA Executive Director Ron Wheeler said during last week’s all-hands meeting.

Kevin Lesko, head of the Berkeley project office for the Sanford Lab, which oversees our operations for the DOE, also expressed thanks to the South Dakota staff “for all you’ve done to keep us afloat.”

Meanwhile, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment has been lowered into its large protective tank in the Davis Campus. Water could be added to the tank as soon as this week. Down the hall, the Majorana Demonstrator team continues to machine ultra-pure copper for its neutrinoless double-beta decay experiment.