Reynolds Polymer Technology Assists University of Wisconsin and the International Daya Bay Collaboration Find New Neutrino Transformation

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R-Cast acrylic cylinders from Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. allow highly sensitive photosensors to clearly read everything that the team measures. The result – the scientists became the first ever to measure a very elusive neutrino in a very short amount of time.

Acrylic chamber next to PMT sensors

A close-up view into the steel chamber shows the R-Cast acrylic cylinder's proximity to the PMT light sensors. The acrylic is compatible with the fluids that will fill the chamber. - photo courtesy Da

Knowing our R-Cast acrylic cylinders played a role, however small in the scheme of things, in facilitating the team of scientists with their discovery is something we are proud and honored to be a part of.

The search for elusive neutrinos outside of a nuclear power complex in China achieved unexpected early success utilizing a design requiring R-Cast acrylic cylinders from Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. (RPT). In only two months of data taking in the field and with only two-thirds of the acrylic cylinders up and running, scientists measured for the first time ever one of the key descriptors of the neutrino’s elusive behavior.

“We were certainly surprised how fast we made the first measurement,” explained Karsten Heeger, University of Wisconsin-Madison physics professor and U.S. manager for the Daya Bay project. “It turns [out] this neutrino oscillation probability we measured was much bigger than expected. After only a couple of weeks of data taking with detectors a mile away from the nuclear power plant we started seeing a disappearance effect.”

RPT assisted in the development of eight custom-designed precision R-Cast acrylic tanks that allow scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Daya Bay Collaboration in China to detect antineutrinos called Theta-13 (pronounced theta-one-three) from a nuclear power plant outside of Hong Kong. The R-Cast acrylic cylindrical tanks measure 13 feet tall, 13 feet in diameter, 0.75 inches thick and form the inner center of the antineutrino detectors resting inside a larger steel chamber with photomultiplier tube (PMT) light sensors. The entire assembly sits in pairs in pools of ultrapure water to shield the antineutrino detectors from environmental interference.

“It’s exciting to be part of such an important discovery,” said Roger R. Reynolds, III, CEO of RPT. “Knowing our R-Cast acrylic cylinders played a role, however small in the scheme of things, in facilitating the team of scientists with their discovery is something we are proud and honored to be a part of.”

Heeger’s team selected R-Cast acrylic for this project because acrylic, in general, is compatible with the scintillating fluids that fill the detectors and that make up the target medium for the experiment. “When neutrinos interact in the detector they produce little flashes,” explained Heeger. “The acrylic vessels allow the light to pass through so that it can be detected with highly sensitive photosensors outside the vessels.”

Known as a mixing angle, Theta-13 describes the probability that an electron antineutrino will change into another type of antineutrino. This measurement answers a longstanding question as to how the elusive particles called neutrinos can appear to vanish as they travel through space, even over a relatively short distance of just one mile.

Heeger went on to explain that this measurement is an important milestone in understanding why we live in a universe made up of matter and not antimatter. Neutrinos are elementary particles essentially moving at the speed of light. These particles have been around since the beginning of time and continue to be produced in nuclear reactions such as inside a nuclear power plant. “It turns [out that] neutrinos may hold the clue why the world we live in is made up of matter,” said Heeger.

The Daya Bay experiment built tanks at the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group power plant which has six reactors. It is among the top 5 most powerful reactor complexes in the world. The antineutrino detectors are located in three underground experimental halls specifically built for this experiment under a mountain. The detectors sit at varying distances from the power plant so that the team can detect the transformation of one kind of neutrino into another as a function of distance from the power plant.

About Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc.

Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. has completed more than 1,600 projects in 53 countries in their nearly 30 years in business. RPT is known as the leading manufacturer, fabricator, designer, and installer of R-Cast® acrylic and resin sheets. In fact, RPT is the only acrylic aquarium panel manufacturer in the U.S. Their products have been used extensively in the architectural, signage, aquarium, water-retaining, and scientific industries worldwide, including major projects in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. RPT is constantly raising the standard for what can be done with acrylic and resins. Headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado, RPT also has operations in Rayong, Thailand. Visit for more information. Proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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