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Creating Matter (Without Antimatter!) in the Laboratory

Jason Detwiler, University of Washington / CENPA
Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 3:45pm
PAA A-102

We owe our existence to the predominance of matter over antimatter in the universe, yet our fundamental theories of nature do not provide an explanation for how such a cosmic imbalance could arise from the Big Bang. Extensions of physical theory that aim to resolve this existential conundrum via new matter-generating processes at ultra-high energies generically predict that we should be able to observe ultra-rare processes in the laboratory setting in which matter is created without any accompanying antimatter. Among these, the most feasible to detect is neutrinoless double-beta decay, a process in which an atomic nucleus spontaneously transforms into its second-neighbor on the periodic table, creating two new electrons with no new antimatter particles. I will report on the substantial progress made over the last decade on both experimental and theoretical fronts in the global enterprise to search for this decay, which has culminated in the mounting of experiments with the capability of identifying a single decaying nucleus in the midst of tons of detector material, reaching half-life sensitivities on the order of 10^18 times the age of the universe.