2012, Elizabeth Izatt Ryan P. McMahan Regis Kopper, Ph.D. Kate Scholberg

Located under Japan’s Mount Ikenoyama, the Super-Kamiokande (or “Super-K”) neutrino detector is used to study neutrino particle physics. The Super-K detector consists of a cylindrical stainless steel tank (41.4m tall and 39.3m in diameter) holding 50,000 tons of water and 13,031 photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). To view the data captured by these sensors, many physicists use 2D visualization tools which present the data color-coded on a deconstructed representation of the cylinder. Unfortunately, this deconstructed visualization makes it difficult for physicists to fully visualize patterns of neutrino interactions. To address this, we have developed a novel virtual reality (VR) application called “Super-KAVE”, which uses a CAVE to immerse users in a life-size representation of the Super-K detector. Super-KAVE displays the collocation of photon sensors and their color-coded data, provides a new visualization technique for neutrino-interaction patterns, and supports transitioning between data events. In this paper, we describe in detail the Super-K detector and its data, discuss the design and implementation of our Super-KAVE application, and report on its expected uses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Super-KAVE is a visualization application for datasets from the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector in Japan.  Given a dataset produced by either simulation or the actual detector, we can provide a full-scale, explorable, immersive visualization of the results.

This data originates in a FORTRAN library.  We first parse this with a FORTRAN script.  Then our OpenGL system backed by the Syzygy parallel rendering library reads in this data file and places the user inside a full-scale representation of the 40-meter tall, cylindrical detector.  Therein the user can fly around via standard DIVE controls, as well as access numerous visualization options via a heirarchical menu system.

Super-KAVE was largely based and inspired by an existing FORTRAN Super-K visualization application called Superscan, used by our physics colleagues.


A master feature list is as follows:

  • Full-scale wireframe representation of the detector (40 meters tall, 40 meters in diameter)
  • Disk representation of the inner photodetector PMTs, colored by either charge or time data, scaled by charge data.
  • Disk representations contained within a square boundary, representing the outer photodetector PMTs, also colored by charge of time data and scaled by charge data.
  • Colored lines drawn on the walls representing the intersection of the Cherenkov energy cone intersecting with the walls.  Color is based on the type of molecule producing the Cherenkov radiation.
  • A spherical object representing the neutrino interaction vertex.
  • Lines between the neutrino vertex and lines on the wall, representing the cherenkov cone itself.
  • A heirarchical menu allowing control over:
    • Which cherenkov cones are being drawn
    • Whether detectors are colored by CHARGE or TIME
    • Which event is being shown
    • Whether the outer detector PMTs are being shown.
  • A tablet display granting the user:
    • Knowledge of current system hand location (granting feedback of system hand position)
    • Current event out of total number of events
    • Current coloring mode
    • Whether the outer detector is visible or not.