Logo of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

Detecting reactor neutrinos and searching for new physics with the CONUS experiment: recent results in light of the measurement of the ionization quenching factor in germanium at PIAF

Kolloquium der Abteilung 6

The discovery of the neutrino mass – awarded by the Nobel Prize in 2015 – makes the neutrino one of the most promising candidate in the quest of new physics and always motivates further ambitious experimental programs, aiming at a better understanding of its fundamental properties.

Recent development of ultra-sensitive particle detectors have opened the possibility to detect the neutrinos via coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering (CEvNS). Having a very large cross-section, this process offers opportunities to further study this elusive particle in rather compact detectors and paves the way for new explorations beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.

The CONUS experiment is located at 17m from the 3.9GWth core of the nuclear power plant Brokdorf (Germany) and aims to detect CEvNS with four 1 kg-sized high-purity germanium detectors with a sub-keV energy threshold.

A deep understanding of the detector response to nuclear recoils is needed for the interpretation of the data and motivated a dedicated measurement of the ionization quenching factor in 2020 at the PIAF facility of the PTB, where an HPGe target was irradiated by mono-energetic neutrons.

After an introduction to experimental neutrino physics, the CONUS experiment will be presented. The most recent results of the experiment will be exposed, in light of the new knowledge obtained from the measurement campaign at the PIAF facility.