Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Physics Division

Physics Division Seminars

Physics Division Seminars bring us speakers on a variety of physics related subjects. Usually these are held in the Building 6008 large Conference Room, at 3:00 pm on the chosen day, but times and locations may vary. For more information, contact our seminar chairman,

Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri
Tel (Office): (865) 574-6124  (FAX): (865) 574-1268


Tue., February 26, 2013, at 3:00 p.m. (refreshments at 2:40 p.m.)

Double Beta Decay, Neutrino Mass and the Majorana Project

Steven R. Elliott, Los Alamos National Laboratory
ORNL, Bldg. 6008, Large Conference Room

At least one neutrino has a mass of about 50 meV or larger. However, the absolute mass scale for the neutrino is unknown. Furthermore, the critical question: Is the neutrino its own antiparticle? remains unanswered. Studies of double beta decay offer hope for determining the absolute mass scale. In particular, zero-neutrino double beta decay (0νββ) can address the issues of lepton number conservation, the particle-antiparticle nature of the neutrino, and its mass. The 0νββ half-life of a nucleus is directly related to the neutrino mass. But, due to the smallness of the neutrino mass, the half-life is very long; at least greater than 1025 years. Hence any search for 0νββ must minimize the background of other processes that may take place in a detector and mask the sought-for signal. The MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR will search for 0νββ in 76Ge and is presently under construction at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD. This experiment will have a half-life reach beyond 1026 years and is a first step toward a large experiment sensitive to neutrino masses below 50 meV. This presentation will introduce the science of double beta decay with an emphasis on the status of the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR.