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SNOLAB is a Canadian underground physics laboratory at a depth of 2 km in Sudbury, Ontario in Vale's Creighton nickel mine. The original Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment has ended, but the facilities have been expanded into a permanent underground laboratory.
SNOLAB surface building.

SNOLAB is the world's second-deepest underground lab facility; the deeper Kolar Gold Fields experiments ended with the closing of the mine in 1992,[1] and the planned DUSEL laboratory has been greatly scaled back after the National Science Foundation refused major funding.[2] In 2010, it was surpassed by the China Jinping Underground Laboratory, which achieves a muon flux of less than 0.2 μ/m²/day,[3] compared with SNOLAB's 0.27 μ/m²/day.[4] (For comparison, the rate on the surface, at sea level, is about 15 million μ/m²/day.)

Although accessed through a mine, the laboratory proper is maintained as a class-2000 cleanroom, with very low levels of dust and background radiation. The 6800 ft (2070 m) overburden of rock provides 6010 metre water equivalent (MWE) shielding from cosmic rays, providing a low-background environment for experiments requiring high sensitivities and extremely low counting rates.[3] [4]


  • History 1
  • Experiments 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


A large deep cavity was originally constructed for the SNO experiment, but other groups were interested in conducting experiments in the very deep location. In 2002 funding was approved by the Canada Foundation for Innovation to expand the SNO facilities into a general-purpose laboratory,[5] and more funding was received in 2007[6] and 2008.[7]

Construction of the major laboratory space was completed in 2009,[8] with the entire lab entering operation as a 'clean' space in March 2011.[9]


It currently hosts six physics experiments:[10][11]:2

  • The HALO (Helium and Lead Observatory) supernova neutrino detector,
  • The second-generation COUPP 60-kg bubble chamber dark matter search,[12]
  • DAMIC (Dark Matter in CCDs) detector,[13][14]
  • The PICO 2L dark matter search prototype,[15][11]:41
  • The PICO-60 dark matter search,[16] and
  • The second-generation DEAP-3600 dark matter detector,[17] using 3600 kg of liquid argon.[18][11]:14,21

Four more experiments are currently under construction:[10]

Five experiments have completed and are no longer operating:

Additional planned experiments have requested laboratory space such as the next-generation nEXO[27][28]:16, COBRA experiment searches for neutrinoless double beta decay,[24]:27 and the New Experiments With Spheres (NEWS) electrostatic dark matter detector.[29] There are also plans for a larger PICO-250L detector.[11]:44

The total size of the SNOLAB underground facilities, including utility spaces and personnel spaces, is:[30][31]:26
Excavated Clean room Laboratory
Floor space 7,215 m²
77,636 ft²
4,942 m²
53,180 ft²
3,055 m²
32,877 ft²
Volume 46,648 m³
1,647,134 ft³
37,241 m³
1,314,973 ft³
29,555 m³
1,043,579 ft³


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  10. ^ a b SNOLAB: Current experiments
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  22. ^ Science at SNOLAB
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  25. ^ "The old COUPP detector using bubble chamber technology to search for dark matter. It is not running right now because they have a bigger detector to assemble and play with!" (2013-01-18)
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External links

  • SNOLAB website
  • SNOLAB french presentations

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