The determination of the absolute scale of the neutrino masses is one of the most challenging questions in particle physics. Different approaches are followed to achieve a sensitivity on neutrino masses in the sub-eV range. Among them, experiments exploring the beta decay and electron capture processes of suitable nuclides can provide necessary information on the electron neutrino mass value. The Electron Capture 163Holmium experiment ECHo aims to investigate the electron neutrino mass in the sub-eV range by means of the analysis of the calorimetrically measured energy spectrum following the electron capture process of 163 Ho . A high precision and high statistics spectrum will be measured by means of low temperature magnetic calorimeter arrays.
The determination of the effective electron neutrino mass via kinematic analysis of beta and electron capture spectra is considered to be model-independent since it relies on energy and momentum conservation. At the same time the precise description of the expected spectrum goes beyond the simple phase space term. In particular for electron capture processes, many-body electron-electron interactions lead to additional structures besides the main resonances in calorimetrically measured spectra. A precise description of the Ho spectrum is fundamental for understanding the impact of low intensity structures at the endpoint region where a finite neutrino mass affects the shape most strongly. We present a low-background and high-energy resolution measurement of the Ho spectrum obtained in the framework of the ECHo experiment. We study the line shape of the main resonances and multiplets with intensities spanning three orders of magnitude. We discuss the need to introduce an asymmetric line shape contribution due to Auger–Meitner decay of states above the auto-ionisation threshold. With this we determine an enhancement of count rate at the endpoint region of about a factor of 2, which in turn leads to an equal reduction in the required exposure of the experiment to achieve a given sensitivity on the effective electron neutrino mass.
High-resolution and low-background Ho spectrum: interpretation of the resonance tails
C. Velte et al.
Eur. Phys. J. C (2019) 79: 1026
Measured163Ho nucleardecay spectrum (black)compared to ab initio theorybroadened using a Lorentzianline-shape (blue) and Mahanline-shape (red)
Neutrinos, and in particular their tiny but non-vanishing masses, can be considered one of the doors towards physics beyond the Standard Model. Precision measurements of the kinematics of weak interactions, in particular of the 3H β-decay and the 163Ho electron capture (EC), represent the only model independent approach to determine the absolute scale of neutrino masses. The electron capture in 163Ho experiment, ECHo, is designed to reach sub-eV sensitivity on the electron neutrino mass by means of the analysis of the calorimetrically measured electron capture spectrum of the nuclide 163Ho. The maximum energy available for this decay, about 2.8 keV, constrains the type of detectors that can be used. Arrays of low temperature metallic magnetic calorimeters (MMCs) are being developed to measure the 163Ho EC spectrum with energy resolution below 3 eV FWHM and with a time resolution below 1 μs. To achieve the sub-eV sensitivity on the electron neutrino mass, together with the detector optimization, the availability of large ultra-pure 163Ho samples, the identification and suppression of background sources as well as the precise parametrization of the 163Ho EC spectrum are of utmost importance. The high-energy resolution 163Ho spectra measured with the first MMC prototypes with ion-implanted 163Ho set the basis for the ECHo experiment. We describe the conceptual design of ECHo and motivate the strategies we have adopted to carry on the present medium scale experiment, ECHo-1K. In this experiment, the use of 1 kBq 163Ho will allow to reach a neutrino mass sensitivity below 10 eV/c 2. We then discuss how the results being achieved in ECHo-1k will guide the design of the next stage of the ECHo experiment, ECHo-1M, where a source of the order of 1 MBq 163Ho embedded in large MMCs arrays will allow to reach sub-eV sensitivity on the electron neutrino mass.
The electron capture in 163Ho experiment – ECHo
L. Gastaldo et al.
Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 226, 1623-1694 (2017)