Stawell physics laboratory works advance

Stawell's Underground Physics Laboratory is on track to be completed by early 2020

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The underground physics lab will be used in the search for dark matter.

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Major in-roads into Stawell's Underground Physics Laboratory have begun.

The latest images coming from the underground laboratory reveal two connected underground caverns being excavated to house the laboratory, one kilometre deep in the mine.

The images detail where the two caverns intersect, with the underground excavation breaking through to connect the two caverns.

Once complete, the Stawell laboratory will be the first underground physics laboratory in the southern hemisphere, situated within the at the Stawell Gold Mine.

The laboratory consists of a main research hall and a side access wing configured in an 'L' Shape.

The excavation work, which is being completed by the owner-operator of the gold mine, began in August 2019 and is expected to take another two months.

Approximately 3000 metres has been excavated.

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University of Melbourne professor Elisabetta Barberio, who heads the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory project, said the excavation breakthrough is a step closer to the discovery of dark matter.

Understanding how the universe was formed from dark matter is one of the world's biggest mysteries, one which Professor Barberio is hoping the laboratory at Stawell will help solve.

BREAKTHROUGH: Stawell Gold Mine worker inspects one of the two caverns which will be home to the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

BREAKTHROUGH: Stawell Gold Mine worker inspects one of the two caverns which will be home to the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

"The Centre will establish the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory as the southern hemisphere's epicentre for dark matter research and a national facility that is desired for other disciplines," she said.

"It will provide a dynamic environment for advances in ultra-sensitive detectors, ultra-low radiation techniques, spin-technology translation, and highly trained graduates ready to lead innovation in Australian industry."

Construction completion for the laboratory is planned for late 2020 with operations expected to commence in early 2021.

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have each allocated $5 million in funding for the building of the facility.

In August, funding was boosted by the Australian Research Council awarding a $35 million Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics to search for dark matter.

The Centre will establish the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory as the southern hemisphere's epicentre for dark matter research and a national facility that is desired for other disciplines.

The story Stawell physics laboratory works advance first appeared on The Stawell Times-News.

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