Search for a new form of matter: the sterile neutr.. (SOLID)
Search for a new form of matter: the sterile neutrino
Start date: Jun 1, 2016,
End date: May 31, 2021
The goal of this proposal is to search for an entirely new kind of matter. This type of matter called a sterile neutrino doesn’t interact with known particles and can only manifest itself through quantum mixing with the three neutrinos of the standard model, the prevailing theory of particle physics. The known neutrinos are by far the most abundant massive particles in the Universe. More than 70 years after the postulation of the existence of the neutrino, its nature and fundamental properties remain, paradoxically, poorly known. The discovery of the quantum mixing of neutrinos: neutrino oscillations, was a major surprise as it implied that neutrinos have mass which they do not have in the standard model. In this context the existence of a sterile neutrino is a natural extension but the discovery of this new state of matter would a profound challenge for the theory to explain. Several new anomalous experimental results have appeared which could be accounted for by the presence of a light sterile neutrino but each result taken separately is not statistically significant. New oscillation patterns in the neutrino energy spectrum would be a clear signature of the new state but are difficult to measure due to experimental and background limitations. We propose the most sensitive search to date for this oscillation signature using two key assets:The SCK•CEN BR2 reactor which offers a unique low background environment combined with a novel detector technology invented by the PI capable of discriminating signal and background with greater sensitivity that any previous technique. We present an experimental program that includes the construction of a detector module and its precise calibration, the programming of a new type of electronic trigger and implementation of state of the art reconstruction techniques and analysis. The results that this proposal will deliver are far reaching both in science and in the development of a new technology for detecting anti-neutrinos.
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