Measuring the Neutrino Mass

Michelle Leber
Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics
University of Washington


While substantial evidence now exists for non-zero neutrino masses, measuring the absolute neutrino mass has proven to be very challenging. The KArlsruhe TRItium Neutrino (KATRIN) experiment will answer this challenge by measuring the tritium beta-decay energy spectrum near the endpoint, the shape of which depends on the neutrino mass. KATRIN can achieve a neutrino mass sensitivity of 0.2 eV (90% CL), one order of magnitude better than the current experimental limit, due to its highly luminous source, a large acceptance main spectrometer with excellent energy resolution, and an efficient silicon detector with minimal backgrounds. This talk will include an overview of the experimental design and status, focusing on backgrounds in the detector and in the pre-spectrometer and on the data acquisition system. The results of the KATRIN experiment will allow an exciting comparison with cosmological limits and neutrinoless double beta decay experiments and might provide clues about the origin of neutrino mass.