Seminar Details

Measuring the Neutrino Mass with Tritium Beta Decays

Noah Oblath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Thursday, January 9, 11:00 AM - Special Seminar
NSCL Lecture Hall

Neutrinos are the most common matter particles in the universe, and yet there are many fundamental questions about them that remain unanswered. They are a critical part of our understanding of everything from cosmology and astrophysics to nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. The absolute neutrino mass scale is one of those unanswered questions, and the most sensitive direct measurements of it are made by tritium beta-decay experiments. I will discuss two complementary experiments that will greatly increase our understanding of neutrino mass: the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment (KATRIN), and Project 8. KATRIN is currently being built and commissioned at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany. We seek to improve the sensitivity to the neutrino mass scale by an order of magnitude over the previous generation of tritium beta-decay experiments. Project 8 is an experiment that will use radio-frequency techniques to detect and measure the energies of beta-decay electrons. We will use this technique to detect the radiation created from the cyclotron motion of the electrons in a strong magnetic field. As this technique involves a measurement of a frequency in a way that is non-destructive to the electron, we can, in principle, further improve the sensitivity to the neutrino mass. I will describe both experiments, and how we seek to make measurements of the neutrino mass that will increase our knowledge of the properties of neutrinos and help us to better understand their role in the universe.