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Thursday, July 25

Neutrinoless Double-Beta Decay and The Nature of the Neutrino

Matthew P. Green, Ph.D, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
ORNL, Physics Division Seminar
3:00 PM — 4:00 PM, ORNL, Building 6008, Large Conference Room
Contact: Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri (uribarri@ornl.gov), 865.574.6124

Abstract

Neutrinos have been intriguing subjects of study since they were first postulated over 80 years ago; their exceptionally low - but nonzero - masses, combined with the fact that they interact only weakly, have made them notoriously difficult to probe experimentally. The neutral charge of the neutrino allows for the possibility that neutrinos are their own anti-particles ie. are Majorana in nature, and their non-zero mass allows for this to be expressed through neutrinoless double-beta decay, an as yet undetected process. Successful detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay would demonstrate lepton-number violation, probe of the absolute mass of the neutrino, and inform models of leptogenesis, a potential contributor to the matter/anti-matter asymmetry in the universe. I will discuss the physics of Majorana neutrinos and neutrinoless double-beta decay, give a overview of current experimental efforts, and describe the Majorana Collaboration's efforts to detect neutrinoless double-beta decay and dark matter in an ultra-low background array of high-purity germanium detectors. Finally, I will discuss the possible application of the germanium detector array technology developed for the Majorana Demonstrator in the pursuit of the first detection of coherent neutrino-nucleus elastic scattering, using ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source as an intense, pulsed neutrino source, ideally suited for this purpose.