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HEP Seminar: Understanding the nature of neutrinos via neutrinoless double-beta decay

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Wenqin Xu, University of South Dakota
12 April 2017 from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
339 Davey Laboratory
Contact Name
Kohta Murase
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Neutrinos provide a critical portal to physics beyond the Standard Model, but many neutrino properties are still largely unknown. The seesaw model can readily explain the small non-zero neutrino mass and it requires neutrinos to be Majorana particles, i.e. fermions that are their own antiparticles. Neutrinos being Majorana particles would explicitly violate lepton number conservation, and hence may point to a way to understand the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe.

Neutrinoless double-beta (0νββ) decay is a hypothesized process where two neutrons decay into two protons and two electrons simultaneously without emitting neutrinos. This decay is possible only if neutrinos are Majorana particles, and it is the only experimentally feasible way to establish the Majorana or Dirac nature of neutrinos. The observation of 0νββ decay would also provide complementary information related to neutrino masses. The current generation 0νββ decay experiments are achieving record-breaking low background levels and the next generation experiments will have a significant discovery potential to observe 0νββ decay, if neutrinos are indeed their own antiparticles.

In this talk, we will discuss the physics of 0νββ decay and review the experiments searching for it. We will focus on Germanium-based experiments including the Majorana Demonstrator and the GERDA experiments. We will discuss their initial results and projections to a ton-scale experiment.