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Search for a new form of matter: the sterile neutrino

Search for a new form of matter: the sterile neutrino

Objective

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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Host institution

IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

Address

South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
Sw7 2az London

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 401 208

Beneficiaries (3)

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IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 1 401 208

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 103 315

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 314 030

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 682474

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 June 2016

  • End date

    31 May 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 818 553

  • EU contribution

    € 1 818 553

Hosted by:

IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE

United Kingdom