The Photon Detector System of the DUNE Vertical Drift module



The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is a next generation neutrino oscillation experiment. A high power wide-band beam operating in neutrino (anti-neutrino) mode will be produced at FNAL (Chicago). Some 1,300 km away, deep underground at the Sandford Underground Research Facility (South Dakota), four gigantic Far Detector modules will measure νμ (anti-νμ) disappearance, νe (anti-νe) and ντ (anti-ντ) appearance with the goals of:

  • determining the Neutrino Mass Ordering
  • ​measuring the CP Violating phase over a wide range of values
  • measuring precisely the oscillation parameters 
  • testing the 3-flavour paradigm

The experiment is conceived to be highly sensitive to the matter effect such that DUNE will be able to unambiguously determine both the Mass Hierarchy and CP Violating phase.  DUNE also has a large subsidary science program which includes the search for Nucleon Decay and the potential observation of a Galactic Core Collapse SuperNova.

The DUNE Far Detector modules will be Liquid Argon Time Projection Chambers (LArTPC), each holding a mass of 17 ktons, which provide a means to constructing gigantic detectors (~62m long, 14m high and 15m wide) with excellent calorimetric and spatial resolving power. The DUNE TPCs are conceived to make fine-grained 'images' of the ionization tracks from the products of neutrino interactions in the liquid argon. 

Large-scale prototyping efforts are in progress at the CERN neutrino platform in order to test and perfect the proposed detector technologies. Resulting from this ongoing effort, the technology choice for the first Far Detector module has been made, it will be a modular liquid-argon TPC with charge drifted horizontally  towards 3 anode wire planes for signal read-out.

Recently, a new read-out concept has emerged called Vertical-Drift, in which charge is drifted vertically towards anodes printed on a PCB. A great advantage of this approach is the ease of production of these anodes compared to the wire plane approach and also in the detector construction. This new concept brings a novel technical challenge, in that the Photon Detectors which are used to detect the scintillation light of liquid argon will be placed on the detector cathode (which is at ~300 kV). The APC group is working on an R&D effort to meet this hardware challenge and has close links with the team at FNAL responsible for the Photon Detector system.

The proposed thesis is centered on one side on determining the suitability of the Vertical Drift detector via simulation, in particular the Photon Detectors which have particular impact on the sensitivity of the experiment to lower energy events, such as enhancing the sensitivity for Core Collapse SuperNova (CCSN).

An important hardware component is also planned. A long stay at FNAL is envisaged, 6-9 months during 2022, will allow a participation in the testing of the full Photon Detector System and a study of the scintillation light detected with the prototypes.

The successful candidate would therefore focus on two main activities:

1) simulation of CCSN events in Vertical Drift; studying both charge and light signals

2) contribution to the development of the Photon Detector System; hardware and scintillation light analysis

In addition, participation in activities related to the commissioning and operation of the prototype detectors at CERN will be possible.

This thesis is fully funded by CNRS/IN2P3 and Fermilab.
Job offer at

Contact :
Jaime Dawson (, Thomas Patzak


Thomas Patzak, Jaime Dawson






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