Division Particle & Astroparticle Physics
 
 

Research: Experiment - Overview

The experimental research projects carried out with participation of this division at MPIK are the reactor neutrino experiment Double Chooz in Chooz in France, the double beta decay experiment GERDA at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Italy, the Dark Matter search experiments XENON100 and XENON1T at LNGS, and the solar neutrino experiment Borexino at LNGS.

Major progress has been achieved in all of these experiments during recent years: Construction of the double beta decay experiment GERDA in hall A of LNGS has been completed. Gerda aims at measuring neutrino-less double beta decay or at improving the current limits on the life-time considerably. Observing this decay would be of fundamental importance for neutrino physics and physics beyond the Standard Model in general, because it would prove that Lepton Number is not conserved by nature. It would show that neutrino masses are not generated by the standard Higgs mechanism, which provides charged fermions and quarks with mass. Potential consequences go as far as the cosmological generation of the Baryon Asymmetry of the Universe.

Similarly, the on-site installation of the neutrino oscillation experiment Double Chooz at the nuclear power station Chooz, France, is progressing. The far detector has been completed and it has started data taking. The near detector will be finished early 2012. Double Chooz will measure or limit the last remaining and so far unknown lepton mixing angle. Both theoretical models of flavour as well as indications from global fits to all other existing data suggest that this angle becomes measurable. The value of this angle has strong influence on the future program of experimental neutrino physics, since it decides if and how we can measure leptonic CP violation and the neutrino mass ordering.

The division participates also in the XENON100 Dark Matter search project which started data taking already in 2010 and which obtained already very important results. Data taking will continue and in parallel the XENON1T project, an up-scaled version of the detector, is beeing planned and realized. XENON100 and XENON1T make very important measurements, since they cover a large part of the theoretically expected parameter space for WIMPs, the favoured Dark Matter candidates.

The solar neutrino experiment Borexino started data taking in 2007 and it has already obtained spectacular results. The achieved radio-purity levels exceeded specifications by about one order of magnitude, which allows much better measurements. The first direct solar 7Be neutrino measurement was published already in 2007 and recent results include the observation of geo-neutrinos with unprecedented precision, constraining the hypothesis of an active geo-reactor in the Earth's core.

The arts of low-background physics, which were developed in past and on-going experiments are unique. The relevant techniques are further improved and new methods are being developed for on-going and future experiments.

 
 


Last modified: Sun 18. June 2017 at 23:32:35