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Title: The Search for Double Beta Decay With Germanium Detectors: Past, Present, and Future

Abstract

High Purity Germanium Detectors have excellent energy resolution; the best among the technologies used in double beta decay. Since neutrino-less double beta decay hinges on the search for a rare peak upon a background continuum, this strength has enabled the technology to consistently provide leading results. The Ge crystals at the heart of these experiments are very pure; they have no measurable U or Th contamination. The added efforts to reduce the background associated with electronics, cryogenic cooling, and shielding have been very successful, leading to the longevity of productivity. The first experiment published in 1967 by the Milan group of Fiorini, established the benchmark half-life limit >3 × 10 20 yr. This bound was improved with the early work of the USC-PNNL, UCSB, and Milan groups yielding limits above 10 23 yr. The Heidelberg-Moscow and USC-PNNL collaborations pioneered the use of enriched Ge for detector fabrication. Both groups also initiated techniques of analyzing pulse waveforms to reject γ-ray background. These steps extended the limits to just over 10 25 yr. In 2000, a subset of the Heidelberg-Moscow collaboration claimed the observation of double beta decay. More recently, the MAJORANA and GERDA collaborations have developed new detector technologies that optimizemore » the pulse waveform analysis. As a result, the GERDA collaboration refuted the claim of observation with a revolutionary approach to shielding by immersing the detectors directly in radio-pure liquid argon. In 2018, the MAJORANA collaboration, using a classic vacuum cryostat and high-Z shielding, achieved a background level near that of GERDA by developing very pure materials for use nearby the detectors. Together, GERDA and MAJORANA have provided limits approaching 10 26 yr. In this article, we elaborate on the historical use of Ge detectors for double beta decay addressing the strengths and weaknesses. We also summarize the status and future as many MAJORANA and GERDA collaborators have joined with scientists from other efforts to give birth to the LEGEND collaboration. LEGEND will exploit the best features of both experiments to extend the half-life limit beyond 10 28 yr with a ton-scale experiment.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (United States). Dept. of Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1493487
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1511245
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-30325
Journal ID: ISSN 2296-424X
Grant/Contract Number:  
89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Physics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2296-424X
Publisher:
Frontiers Research Foundation
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS; Atomic; Nuclear and Particle Physics; double beta decay; neutrino; Ge detectors; Majorana; Dirac

Citation Formats

Elliott, Steven Ray, and Avignone III, Frank T. The Search for Double Beta Decay With Germanium Detectors: Past, Present, and Future. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.3389/fphy.2019.00006.
Elliott, Steven Ray, & Avignone III, Frank T. The Search for Double Beta Decay With Germanium Detectors: Past, Present, and Future. United States. doi:10.3389/fphy.2019.00006.
Elliott, Steven Ray, and Avignone III, Frank T. Tue . "The Search for Double Beta Decay With Germanium Detectors: Past, Present, and Future". United States. doi:10.3389/fphy.2019.00006.
@article{osti_1493487,
title = {The Search for Double Beta Decay With Germanium Detectors: Past, Present, and Future},
author = {Elliott, Steven Ray and Avignone III, Frank T.},
abstractNote = {High Purity Germanium Detectors have excellent energy resolution; the best among the technologies used in double beta decay. Since neutrino-less double beta decay hinges on the search for a rare peak upon a background continuum, this strength has enabled the technology to consistently provide leading results. The Ge crystals at the heart of these experiments are very pure; they have no measurable U or Th contamination. The added efforts to reduce the background associated with electronics, cryogenic cooling, and shielding have been very successful, leading to the longevity of productivity. The first experiment published in 1967 by the Milan group of Fiorini, established the benchmark half-life limit >3 × 1020 yr. This bound was improved with the early work of the USC-PNNL, UCSB, and Milan groups yielding limits above 1023 yr. The Heidelberg-Moscow and USC-PNNL collaborations pioneered the use of enriched Ge for detector fabrication. Both groups also initiated techniques of analyzing pulse waveforms to reject γ-ray background. These steps extended the limits to just over 1025 yr. In 2000, a subset of the Heidelberg-Moscow collaboration claimed the observation of double beta decay. More recently, the MAJORANA and GERDA collaborations have developed new detector technologies that optimize the pulse waveform analysis. As a result, the GERDA collaboration refuted the claim of observation with a revolutionary approach to shielding by immersing the detectors directly in radio-pure liquid argon. In 2018, the MAJORANA collaboration, using a classic vacuum cryostat and high-Z shielding, achieved a background level near that of GERDA by developing very pure materials for use nearby the detectors. Together, GERDA and MAJORANA have provided limits approaching 1026 yr. In this article, we elaborate on the historical use of Ge detectors for double beta decay addressing the strengths and weaknesses. We also summarize the status and future as many MAJORANA and GERDA collaborators have joined with scientists from other efforts to give birth to the LEGEND collaboration. LEGEND will exploit the best features of both experiments to extend the half-life limit beyond 1028 yr with a ton-scale experiment.},
doi = {10.3389/fphy.2019.00006},
journal = {Frontiers in Physics},
number = ,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {2}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.3389/fphy.2019.00006

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