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Identification of Single Barium Atoms for the nEXO Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay Experiment

Scott W. Kravitz, Stanford University
Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
CENPA Conference Room, Rm 178

​nEXO is a next-generation experiment designed to search for neutrinoless double beta decay of xenon-136 in a liquid xenon time projection chamber. Positive observation of this decay would determine the neutrino to be a Majorana particle, as well as measure the absolute neutrino mass scale. In order to greatly reduce background contributions to this search, the collaboration is developing several "barium tagging'' techniques to recover and identify the decay daughter, barium-136. Barium tagging may be available for a second phase of nEXO operation, allowing for neutrino mass sensitivity beyond the inverted mass hierarchy. Tagging methods for this phase include barium-ion capture on a probe with identification by resonance ionization laser spectroscopy (RIS). An apparatus has been built to deposit barium atoms onto a surface and recover them using infrared laser desorption followed by RIS, with the resulting ions passing through a time-of-flight mass spectrometer for further identification. Recent results from this system will be presented, including those from incorporating an argon ion gun which allows for improved cleaning and preparation of the barium deposition substrate.

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