Referring to this article, where we see there are three flavors of neutrinos, got me thinking of simple binary-based communication, but more like the UDP protocol where we can live with dropped packets.

The dropped packets in this case would be when the neutrino changes types or flavors, or not detected. I'm not sure if the loss or change would be within an acceptable range, but it got me thinking.

If they can detect a transmitted neutrino hundreds of miles away without an actual conduit (cables, wires, EM tunnel), could a communication system not be derived out of this?

It is understood that with today's technology, detectors are large, expensive, and only detect some of the neutrinos. But in theory, is this not possible, and if so, how?


2 Answers 2


It's possible to detect neutrinos in whichever flavor they are oscillating through, so that won't necessarily cause a "dropped packet" problem.

The answer is, technically, yes, there is no physical law preventing the use of neutrinos as a communication medium. It has been demonstrated that we can cause the emission and detection of neutrinos. For example, neutrino emissions have been detected from a nuclear reactor at a distance of 1 km in this paper.

However, it really can't be overstated just how difficult it is to detect neutrinos. It's really, really difficult. As in, subterranean-cavern-sized-detector level of difficulty. The cross section that neutrinos have with the type of matter we have access to is vanishingly small. It would be an astonishingly expensive, inconvenient, and inefficient method of communication.

  • $\begingroup$ CHOOZ is not the half up it (and it's a hoot how they were describing 1 km as long base-line at the time): KamLAND does reactor neutrinos from all over Japan and the Korean peninsula with a weighted average distance of about 160 km. But reactor neutrinos are unduely difficult for communications purposes: beam neutrinos switch faster and have higher cross-sections. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2015 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ A lot of great references and articles, thank you. $\endgroup$
    – ElHaix
    Aug 10, 2015 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ Come to think about it, neutrinos are often used to signal to earth scientist to prepare the light telescopes for a supernova event. $\endgroup$
    – Aron
    Aug 10, 2015 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I don't know if I'd say often, but that is a good example. $\endgroup$
    – Brionius
    Aug 10, 2015 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Aron: unless I am mistaken, we have a statistic of one for neutrino detection with a SNe event. And even that one, as close as it was to us, gave as a grand total of 25 neutrinos. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Aug 11, 2015 at 0:02

Yes and it already happened. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2012/mar/19/neutrino-based-communication-is-a-first

From the arXiv:1203.2847

Beams of neutrinos have been proposed as a vehicle for communications under unusual circumstances, such as direct point-to-point global communication, communication with submarines, secure communications and interstellar communication. We report on the performance of a low-rate communications link established using the NuMI beam line and the MINERvA detector at Fermilab. The link achieved a decoded data rate of 0.1 bits/sec with a bit error rate of 1% over a distance of 1.035 km, including 240 m of earth.

  • $\begingroup$ That moment when I reread my own comment ^^ $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2016 at 19:10

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