Korea's deepest underground lap completed to explore mysteries of universe

Jung Hee-young and Minu Kim 2022. 10. 6. 11:51
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[Source: IBS]
South Korea’s state research institute Wednesday unveiled the country’s deepest underground research facility in the eastern Gangwon Province, which will be used to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The Yemi Lab located about 1km underground Mount Yemi encompasses 3,000 square meters in area is the sixth largest of its kind in the world, the Institute of Basic Science (IBS) said.

The 31 billion won ($22 million) construction project, which began in 2016, is aimed at carrying out two major experiments: AMoRE-II and COSINE-200.

AMoRE-II is designed to investigate the physical properties of a neutrino using molybdenum. Following its previous AMoRE-1 experiment, the IBS will increase the molybdenum crystal size from 6kg to 200kg. A neutrino is one of 12 elementary fermions consisting of the fundamental forces of the universe, according to the standard model of particle physics.

The experiment is scheduled to start at the end of this year, and a radiation shielding structure around a detector is already installed in the AMoRE lab. Due to the topographical characteristics of the lab surrounded by limestone, it is theoretically possible to block cosmic rays at a level of 1 millionth of the surface level. Since the signal emitted by neutrinos is very difficult to capture, background noise such as cosmic rays from outside should be reduced as much as possible, the IBS said.

The other experiment project COSINE-200 is to explore the hitherto unobserved dark matter, which occupies about 26 percent of the universe. The lab will search for traces of dark matter in the collision between dark matter that flew to Earth and a crystal inside the COSINE detector. In 2018 IBS drew attention from physicists around the world by publishing its research results on a weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP), known as a potential candidate for dark matter, in Nature.

Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that does not appear to interact with the electromagnetic field and thus, difficult to detect. Scientists believe it is abundant in the universe, and therefore, knowing more about dark matter is a key to solving the mysteries of the universe.

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