First results of neutrino mass from KATRIN

First results of neutrino mass from KATRIN

Despite their extremely small mass, neutrinos play a key role in cosmology and particle physics.

After evaluation of the first measurement results in the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment (KATRIN), it is now clear: The previously unknown mass of the neutrinos must be less than one electron volt. This result is more accurate than previous measurements and raises hopes of discovering new neutrino properties.

Apart from photons, the particles of light, neutrinos are the most common particles in the universe. The discovery of neutrino-oscillation two decades ago proved that – contrary to previous expectations – they have a mass, faint but other than zero.

The lightweight particles thus play a central role in the formation of large-scale structures in the cosmos. Also in the world of elementary particles, the smallest building blocks of the universe, their extremely small mass is of importance: it suggests new physics beyond common models.

Over the next few years, the international KATRIN experiment at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will determine the mass of these fascinating neutrinos with unprecedented sensitivity. One of the research groups is headed by MaxPlanck@TUM-Tenure Track Professor Susanne Mertens.

In spring 2019, the 150-strong KATRIN team started their first neutrino measurements. The scientists circulated highly pure tritium gas for several weeks and recorded the first energy spectra of electrons from the tritium decay. The international team then set to work to derive the first neutrino mass from the data recorded.

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Source: “More accurate than expected”, Technical University of Munich