PhD project: Neutrinoless double-beta decay on SuperNEMO

Project description

Einstein's theory of relativity explains how matter can be created from energy - but every process we've seen generates equal amounts of matter and antimatter. As we live in a universe overwhelmingly dominated by matter, this leads to one of physics' biggest mysteries - how was the matter-antimatter asymmetry generated?

Neutrinoless double-beta decay (0νββ) could provide an explanation. It’s a proposed radioactive decay that would create matter (electrons) without antimatter. If it exists, it could not only give a clue to the origin of the universe but to another long-standing particle-physics mystery – why, contrary to the Standard Model, do neutrinos have mass?

We know that if 0νββ does exist, it has a very long half-life – trillions of times longer than the age of the universe – so we need very clean, low-background detectors if we want a chance of seeing it. The SuperNEMO collaboration are building a detector at the Modane Underground Laboratory in the French Alps, which uses a unique tracker-calorimeter design to track the electrons from possible 0νββ decays and measure their energies. As well as searching for neutrinoless double-beta decay, this design allows us to learn about nuclear physics by studying associated Standard Model decays. Our detector is now in its commissioning phase, and is accumulating data that we can use to calibrate the detector and prepare for making our first physics measurements in the coming months.

The Edinburgh group has a lead role in data analysis for SuperNEMO and its predecessor, NEMO-3. We are also heavily involved in commissioning the tracker - the part of the detector that traces the individual particle tracks, and in software and reconstruction.

Possible projects

  • Commissioning and calibration of the SuperNEMO tracker
  • Physics analysis: double-beta decay and background measurements
  • Nuclear physics studies with double-beta decay data

If you are interested in pursuing a Master's or PhD in any of the above areas or if you have an idea of your own then please get in contact with cpatrick [at] (subject: Double-beta%20decay%20PhD%2Fmasters) (Cheryl Patrick).

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