Dr. Abdel Bachri and SAU Engineering Physics graduates Martin Hawron, Perry Grant, and Clayton Martin recently published a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Instrumentation titled “High-pressure xenon time projection Titanium chamber: a methodology for detecting background radiation in neutrinoless double-beta decay experiments.”
Neutrinoless double-beta decay is a very rare process where two neutrons in a nucleus may simultaneously undergo beta decay and produce two protons, two electrons and two antineutrinos that annihilate each other, plus a specific amount of energy in the form of Gamma rays. This decay process was originally predicted in 1939, but has yet to be observed in experiments. Several international collaborations are currently racing to develop instruments sensitive enough to claim the discovery of this process because of the profound implications it could have on revealing properties of neutrino particles, such as their mass and their contribution to dark matter in the universe.
In their paper, Dr. Bachri and his students show that it is feasible to detect this decay process in 100 kg of Xenon gas maintained at high pressure within a radio pure Titanium Time Projection Chamber (TPC). The team illustrated a methodology for background radiation evaluation, and analyzed all prominent internal and external decay events capable of deposing energy in the range of energy expected to be released following the actual double beta decay. This allowed them to isolate any background signals that may mimic the real signal and interfere with the discovery of such rare events. The predictions of the team’s theoretical calculation were found to be in good agreement with a full computer simulation of TPC radiation background by existing experimental collaboration using Xenon.
Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California. The full article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-0221/12/10/T10004.