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New Mexico State University
Department of Physics
College of Arts & Sciences

Welcome to the Department of Physics

Physicists study the basic principles and laws which govern the natural world. As a physicist you can tackle today’s scientific and technological challenges, do cutting-edge research, or compete for high-tech jobs on multi-disciplinary teams. The Physics department offers research opportunities including research at world class facilities at national labs, and offers degrees both in Physics and Engineering Physics.

At New Mexico State University You have the option to earn a BA or BS in physics, a BS in engineering physics, and a MS or Ph.D. in Physics.


August 2017

Cooper Research Group Collaborates on World's Smallest Neutrino Detector's Discovery

Robert Cooper
Hector Moreno
Michael Kaemingk

NMSU assistant physics professor Robert Cooper and graduate student Hector Moreno are among collaborators on a one-of-a-kind physics experiment at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, using the world’s smallest neutrino detector.

NMSU assistant physics professor Robert Cooper (center) with graduate student Hector Moreno (right) and NMSU undergraduate student Michael Kaemingk are shown assembling a detector for tests at Indiana University, Bloomington. Cooper and Moreno are part of the COHERENT collaborative and among the authors of a recent paper in the journal Science.

The result is the first measurement of coherent scattering of low-energy neutrinos off nuclei. Typically, neutrinos, electrically neutral particles that interact only weakly with matter, interact with individual protons or neutrons inside a nucleus. But in “coherent” scattering, an approaching neutrino “sees” the entire weak charge of the nucleus as a whole and interacts with all of it. 

The COHERENT experiment, performed at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source for more than a year and published in the journal Science this month, provides compelling evidence for a neutrino interaction process predicted by theorists 43 years ago, but never seen.

“This first measurement has brought together a diverse team of scientists from across this country and abroad,” Cooper said. “As a member of COHERENT, NMSU students are literally at the cutting edge of physics research. Students like Hector Moreno are in a position to discover new things and make an impact on the future direction of neutrino research.”

The calculable fingerprint of neutrino – nucleus interactions predicted by the Standard Model and seen by COHERENT is not just interesting to theorists. In nature, it also dominates neutrino dynamics during neutron star formation and supernovae explosions.

Read the full NMSU news release from 08/14/2017.

Report published in Science 03 Aug 2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0990:
Observation of coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering