This independent junior research group was financed for 4 years by an ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant, and since 2012 by the Strategic Innovation Fund of the MPG. The project's name is MANITOP, which stands for Massive Neutrinos: Investigating their Theoretical Origin and Phenomenology.
The aim of the project is to shed light on the theoretical origin of (Majorana) neutrino masses and to explore the phenomenological consequences of the model predictions and of possible mechanisms giving rise to neutrino mass. Particular emphasis will be laid on the connections between neutrino physics and other fields, e.g., lepton flavor violation, LHC physics, cosmic rays, dark matter, cosmology etc. The results of many upcoming experiments in the neutrino sector and beyond will be a crucial discriminator for models and will have to be followed closely.
On the theory side we will lay emphasis on the various mechanisms to explain small neutrino masses, in particular realizations of the see-saw mechanism. The numerous aspects in what regards the generation of the unexpected neutrino mixing schemes are not at all understood. Apart from neutrino oscillation observables, there are more model-dependent implications of neutrino mass models, for instance lepton flavor violating decays and electric dipole moments in the charged lepton sector, or processes involving new particles at colliders such as the LHC. The connection to the baryon asymmetry of the Universe, to proton decay and to dark matter will also be studied. Possibilities to distinguish the different mechanisms (e.g., type I from type II see-saw) shall be searched for.
Phenomenology will also be focused on: in particular, the implications of upcoming (precision) experiments on the neutrino mass and mixing parameters or the neutrino mass matrix will be investigated. The prospects of using high energy neutrino cosmic rays to probe the neutrino mixing parameters will be studied. Neutrinoless double beta decay (including analogous processes) and new experimental ideas to probe the parameters of neutrino physics will also be explored.
The ERC is the EU funding body for science, and was launched in 2007. ERC Grants aim to support single research leaders ('Principal Investigators') heading a research team to conduct a frontier research project. Two kinds of grants are offered by the ERC, Starting Independent Researcher Grants for young investigators (3 to 8 years after obtaining the Ph.D.) and Advanced Investigators Grants for established senior scientists. The very first ERC call for proposals focused on ERC Starting Grants and closed on 25 April 2007 with 9167 applications having been submitted, only roughly 300 of which were successful.