nEDM@SNS - The Neutron Electric Dipole Moment Experiment at the Spallation Neutron Source




One-page Summary


Vision: Discover physics Beyond the Standard Model.

Mission: The nEDM@SNS collaboration will use breakthrough technology to measure the neutron’s electric dipole moment with unprecedented precision to understand the emergence of matter in the Universe following the Big Bang.

Goal: The goal of the nEDM@SNS experiment at the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beamline at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source is to make the world’s best measurement of the neutron’s electric dipole moment, improving the current precision by two orders of magnitude.

The Big Question: Is the neutron round? If not, so what? It turns out that the “roundness” of the neutron’s electric charge distribution (measured by the electric dipole moment) is connected at a deep level to a rather fundamental question – “Why is there any matter in the Universe?”

Link to 2019 NPR story on the search for the neutron electric dipole moment, "Why Corned Beef Sandwiches — And The Rest Of The Universe — Exist​"

Matter and anti-matter were created in equal amounts during the Big Bang. Almost all of it (all but about half a part per billion) was annihilated in subsequent matter/anti-matter collisions. Clearly (and thankfully) a small excess of matter survived to form our Universe. Theories attempting to explain this almost invariably predict that the neutron is not quite perfectly round.


The neutron electric dipole moment (or nEDM) was first measured in 1950 by Smith, Purcell and Ramsey at the ORNL’s Graphite Reactor – the world’s first intense neutron source. This first measurement showed that the neutron was very nearly round (to better than one part in a million). 

In the last seventy years the precision of the measurement has improved by six orders of magnitude; the neutron is now known to be round to better than one part in a trillion!  – Historical Development of nEDM Precision 


The goal of the nEDM@SNS experiment at the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beamline at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source is to further improve the precision of this measurement by two orders of magnitude. Click here to see a visual representation of this level of precision.

Latest News

Magnetic Shield Enclosure under construction.

Magnetic Shield Enclosure under construction.   Details: The nEDM@SNS experimental apparatus must be shielded from stray magnetic fields. A multi-layer Magnetic Shield Enclosure (MSE) is being assembled for this purpose by IMEDCO, a Swiss firm specializing in magnetic shielding applications.

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