Northwestern Events Calendar


Colloquium: Giorgio Gratta: The quest for neutrino-less double-beta decay

When: Friday, November 12, 2021
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Central

Where: Technological Institute, L211, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Samantha Westlake  

Group: Physics and Astronomy Colloquia

Category: Academic


Abstract: Neutrinos, the only neutral elementary fermions, have provided us with many surprises. Flavor oscillations reveal the non-conservation of the lepton flavor number and demonstrate that neutrino masses are finite; yet they are surprisingly much smaller that those of other fermions (by at least six orders of magnitude!) It is then natural to ask if the mechanism providing the mass to neutrinos is the same that gives masses to the other (charged) elementary particles and if neutrinos are described by 4-component Dirac wavefunctions or, as is possible for neutral particles, by 2-component Majorana ones.

The hypothetical phenomenon of neutrino-less double-beta decay can probe the Majorana nature of neutrinos and the conservation of the total lepton number. It may also help elucidating the origins of mass in the neutrino sector. Following the well-known principle that there is no free lunch in life, interesting half-lives for neutrino-less double-beta decay exceed 10^25 years (or ~10^15 times the age of the Universe!) making experiments rather challenging. I will review the experimental situation world-wide and describe in more detail the EXO program, including the recent measurements by EXO-200 and the 5-ton enriched Xe detector, nEXO, that will have a sensitivity to Majorana masses below 10 meV and is expecting DoE's CD-1 in the next 10 months.

Speaker: Giorgio Gratta, Stanford University

Host: Timothy Kovachy

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