All entries for Wednesday 04 July 2007

July 04, 2007

My Project

Project Intro: Title: Development of an e-resource for Low Background Physics: ββ(0v)

My project is basicly to create a website where physicists researching into double beta decay can come to quickly and easily produce graphs showing background levels experienced in various experiments going on worldwide. To understand why this is needed, some basic theory is required:

Beta Decay

Beta Decay is the process in which a neutron decays, via the weak interaction to a proton, releasing an electron and an electron anti neutrino.

Beta Decay

In in normal beta decay two such events happen simultaneously, with the emission of two electrons and two antineutrinos. Neutrinos are assumed to be massless. This is as far as the “standard model” of particle physics can take us.

Double Beta 2v

Neutrinoless Double Beta

Certain theories beyond the standard model predict that neutrinos are actually Majorana particles (they are there own antiparticle) with non zero mass. In order to test these theories you can look at there prediction that Neutrinoless Double beta decay could occur, as shown below:


A virtual neutrino is exchanged between the two decaying nuclei, leaving only two electrons to be released. This is a testable prediction, as the two electrons must share the energy avaliable equally, and hence produce a sharp single peak on an energy distribution graph.

The reason this has not yet been conclusivly done arises because the half life of this process is very long! Around the order of ~10^25 years! This means even with a ton of source material only one or two of these event would happen within a year!

This is where my project comes in. If we are to spot the one or two events in a year, then the background noise must be very low. My project is to build a resource that will collate all the current experimental evidence around background noise, in a simple and easy to use format.

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