The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay will build the world’s largest magnet that will be housed in a cavern dug under a rock cover at the Neutrino Observatory (INO) at Tamil Nadu – the country’s biggest basic science experiment.
Weighing 50,000 tonnes, the magnet that will make up the Iron Calorimetric (ICAL) detector will trap atmospheric neutrinos produced by cosmic rays in the earth’s atmosphere and study these elusive particles. Neutrinos are key to understanding the evolution of the universe, energy production mechanisms in the Sun and other stars.
According to scientists, the weightiest magnet in the world will be four storeys high and one can complete a 100-metre round trip. By the year-end, BARC scientists will start work on building a two kiloton prototype of the magnet that is likely to be completed in three years.The experiments at INO are likely to start in 2019.
“There will be certain uncertainties when building the final magnet. The prototype will help verify the design,” said MS Bhatia, who is heading the engineering aspect of the magnet.
The Department of Atomic Energy has acquired land for the Rs. 1,200 crore project – 27 hectare at the experiment site and 13 hectare for a laboratory at Madurai. At present, the department is awaiting final clearances from the Atomic Energy Commission and the cabinet.