Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Nathaniel Tagg, PhD

First Committee Member

Nathaniel Tagg, PhD

Second Committee Member

Aaron Reinhard, PhD

Third Committee Member

Wendy Sherman-Heckler, PhD


particle physics, experiment, Tagg, neutrino, microboone

Subject Categories

Elementary Particles and Fields and String Theory


The MicroBooNE experiment at Fermilab was designed both to investigate results from anomalies seen in short-baseline experiments and to prototype technology for larger scale experiments. MicroBooNE hopes to investigate an excess of low-energy events seen in a preceding experiment, using improved detector resolution. The goal of this thesis was to perform a calibration of the MicroBooNE detector by determining the Michel electron energy spectrum inside the detector. Michel electrons result from the decay of muons, and have a very well understood energy spectrum. Muons from cosmic rays continually pass through the detector, roughly 1% of which will decay within the detector volume. From these decayed muons it is possible to measure the energy spectrum of Michel decays occurring within the detector. Comparison of this spectrum with the spectrum provided by theory gives a conversion factor between the arbitrary detector units and true energy in MeV. This calibration is necessary for producing good physics data to meet the goals of the experiment. Here a procedure is developed that performs robust, low-level calibration. Development started with a simplified scenario, and ended with a more high-level calibration procedure, which found the detector to be calibrated at 54 ± 8 ADC/MeV.