Searching for the rare, neutrino-less double beta decay to help understand the nature of neutrinos.
This research involves searching for a very rare radioactive decay to explain the fundamental properties of neutrinos.
Searching Neutrinos for Clues about the Universe
Neutrinos are everywhere and are among the most numerous particles in the universe. However, their small mass makes them extremely difficult to detect as they can pass through matter almost undisturbed.
Most neutrinos are created by radioactive decay that takes place in the sun. The very light particles then take only eight minutes to reach the Earth.
Dr. Christine Kraus, Canada Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics, is searching for an extremely rare type of neutrino decay, known as the neutrino-less double beta decay.
To find it, she is making use of the “SNO+”, an instrument found within the SNOLAB, a facility located about two kilometers underground in the Canadian Shield in Sudbury, Ontario. SNO+ uses the same hardware as the successful SNO (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) experiment performed in the past. SNO+ will fill a large acrylic sphere (12 meters in diameter) with liquid scintillator to detect solar (and other) neutrinos as they pass at nearly the speed of light.
If Kraus is successful in finding the rare decay, her discovery will not only tell scientists much more about the fundamental nature of neutrinos, but could also help unravel clues about the effect of these particles on the evolution of the universe.