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Physics Colloquium – “Precise Atomic Mass Measurements for Nuclear and Neutrino Physics”
October 1, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Fundamental Physics Lecture
Central Michigan University
Abstract: The mass of an atom is one of its most fundamental properties, representing the sum of the masses of all the protons, neutrons and electrons that it is made of and, through Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2, the energy required to bind it together. Throughout the history of nuclear physics, atomic mass measurements have played a vital role, from the discovery of isotopes, to the observation of magic numbers and the development of the nuclear shell model. Precise mass measurements continue to provide data for nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics applications, but are also important for certain experiments in the field of neutrino physics. These experiments involve direct neutrino mass determinations and searches for neutrinoless double β-decay. They aim to provide answers to outstanding questions in neutrino physics, such as what is the absolute neutrino mass scale? and is the neutrino a Dirac or a Majorana particle? In this talk, I will discuss high precision atomic mass measurements of b-decay Q values for isotopes that are being used in current or planned ββ-decay and neutrino mass determination experiments. I will describe the tool that we use to perform these measurements, the Penning trap, which can be used to trap and detect single ions to provide the most precise and accurate mass measurements with precisions down to the level of 10 parts-per-trillion.