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Publication

nEXO: neutrinoless double beta decay search beyond 10^28 year half-life sensitivity...

by Jason T Nattress, Robert J Newby, Lorenzo Fabris
Publication Type
Journal
Journal Name
Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics
Publication Date
Page Number
015104
Volume
49
Issue
1

The nEXO neutrinoless double beta (0νββ) decay experiment is designed to use a time projection chamber and 5000 kg of isotopically enriched liquid xenon to search for the decay in 136Xe. Progress in the detector design, paired with higher fidelity in its simulation and an advanced data analysis, based on the one used for the final results of EXO-200, produce a sensitivity prediction that exceeds the half-life of 1028 years. Specifically, improvements have been made in the understanding of production of scintillation photons and charge as well as of their transport and reconstruction in the detector. The more detailed knowledge of the detector construction has been paired with more assays for trace radioactivity in different materials. In particular, the use of custom electroformed copper is now incorporated in the design, leading to a substantial reduction in backgrounds from the intrinsic radioactivity of detector materials. Furthermore, a number of assumptions from previous sensitivity projections have gained further support from interim work validating the nEXO experiment concept. Together these improvements and updates suggest that the nEXO experiment will reach a half-life sensitivity of 1.35 × 1028 yr at 90% confidence level in 10 years of data taking, covering the parameter space associated with the inverted neutrino mass ordering, along with a significant portion of the parameter space for the normal ordering scenario, for almost all nuclear matrix elements. The effects of backgrounds deviating from the nominal values used for the projections are also illustrated, concluding that the nEXO design is robust against a number of imperfections of the model.