The “Final Result of the Majorana Demonstrator’s Search for Neutrinoless Double-β Decay in 76Ge,” caught the eye of the scientific community becoming the most downloaded Nuclear Physics related paper that was published in Physical Review Letters in 2023.
From 2015 until 2021, the Majorana Demonstrator, tucked nearly a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, searched for an elusive decay that might be the key to solving one of the universe’s biggest puzzles: why matter abounds rather than nothingness. The postulated decay, known as neutrinoless double beta decay, if observed would reveal the quantum nature of neutrinos and prove that neutrinos are their own antiparticles.
The experiment’s final results, while not observing the decay, set a limit on the half-life of the decay of greater than 8 x 1025 years (a timescale more than 1015 times longer than the age of the universe). The experiment has helped pave the way for a next generation experiment known as LEGEND that aims to eventually have a hundred times the sensitivity of the Demonstrator.
UNC Physics and Astronomy faculty Julieta Gruszko, Reyco Henning, and John Wilkerson together with Matthew Busch from Duke, faculty member Matthew Green from NCSU, and UNC and NCSU graduate students and postdoctoral scholars made essential contributions to the Majorana efforts. UNC Postdoctoral fellow Ian Guinn (now at Oak Ridge National Laboratory) served as the paper’s corresponding author. This collaborative research was supported and facilitated by the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory(TUNL), a DOE Center of Excellence that is a consortium of UNC, Duke, NCSU, and NCCU nuclear physics researchers.
The Demonstrator was enabled by support from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Physics and the National Science Foundation.
(Left: the Cover of the Article; Right: The Article has the most downloads under the Nuclear Physics section in 2023)