Particle Physics and Low Background Science
30 Apr 2020



Boulby laboratory hosts an array of particle physics experiments, from the search for dark matter to neutrino detection and more. Boulby is also the proud host of BUGS, a world class, ultra-low background material assay laboratory.





BUGS (Boulby UnderGround Screening facility) is a world class material assay facility situated in Boulby Underground Laboratory. Material assay is a catch all term for the process of understanding the radioactivity of a substance, be it intrinsic to the material or contaminated on its surface. Through careful material selection and assay it is possible to reduce backgrounds and to characterise residual radiocontaminants, both of which result in improved detector sensitivity. This allows scientists to better understand the materials they work with in both academic and industrial environments.​​​ Operating a material screening facility deep underground, free of interference from cosmic rays, enables improved sensitivities orders of magnitude above those achieved in surface facilities, allowing the very lowest levels of radioactivity to be measured.​​

To find out more about BUGS, its detectors, or to request an assay, please follow this link​.

Dark Matter

Boulby Underground Laboratory started out as a dark matter research facility, and continues to contribute to the search for the elusive dark matter today. Dark matter is thought to be the missing mass of the universe, theorised to constitute ~90% of all matter in the form of weakly interacting particles. The race is on world wide to find the first glimpses of these particles, using various novel detector technologies. Boulby contributes in a variety of ways to the search for dark matter, from direct searches to material assay for larger scale detectors.


NEO (Neutrino Experiment One) is a 6 tonne antineutrino detector with the initial​​ focus of reactor monitoring for nuclear non-proliferation goals. Antineutrinos are a natural by-product of fission reactor activity, and owing to their highly penetrative nature, serve as an irreducible signal by which reactors can be detected from great distances. The first of a number of planned detectors, NEO's initial aim is to detect antineutrinos from the nearby Hartlepool Power Station using methods that are​ scalable to larger fiducial volumes.

Contact: Toth, Christopher (STFC,Boulby Mine,PPD)