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Development and optimization of scintillating bolometers and innovative light detectors for a pilot underground experiment on neutrinoless double beta decay

Abstract : The current experiments on rare events searches for neutrino and dark matter are at present two of the most relevant and exiting field in particle and astro-particle physics.Thanks to the efforts made in the past years, much of progress has been made in answering some big open questions in this field. In particular, experiments in neutrino physics during the past decades gave very interesting results, stimulating new ideas of the mechanisms beyond the Standard Model. One of them is known as neutrinoless double beta decay which can give important informations on the puzzling picture of how nature behaves. It is a rare nuclear transition with a half life longer than 10^25 years where two neutrons decay simultaneously in to two protons with the emission of only two electrons, the two neutrino acting as a virtual particle between the two decay vertices. This process is possible only if the neutrino is equal to its antiparticle, which is in contrast with the SM predictions.The observation of this phenomenon can determining the nature -- Dirac or Majorana --, of massive neutrinos. This is of fundamental importance for making progress in our understanding of the origin of neutrino masses and mixing and of the symmetries governing the lepton sector of particle interactions. The measurement of the half life of the process would give unvaluable information on the absolute scale of neutrino masses, the Majorana phases and the type ofneutrino mass spectrum.This thesis is deeply related to the LUMINEU project aiming to prepare the construction of a next-generation Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay experiment, capable exploring the inverted hierarchy region of neutrino mass. This goal will be achieved through the development of sophisticated low-temperature detectors named bolometers, which may lead to important advancements in the field of dark matter detection as well.Bolometers are low temperature calorimetric detectors, which can exploit the so called homogeneous approach, which provides very high efficiency. They can be made by almost any dielectric material, giving a flexibility in the source/detector material choice. In addition, their excellent energy resolution makes them very competitive detectors.Scintillating bolometers are upgrade of the simple bolometers, where the absorber can also scintillate. The readout of the scintillating light is made by an auxiliary bolometer and it enables particle identification with the only drawback of doubling the readout channels.In this context, we developed, tested and optimized scintillating bolometers and innovative light detectors for a pilot underground experiment on neutrinoless double beta decay of 100Mo embedded in ZnMoO₄ and Li₂MoO₄ crystal scintillators.We demonstrated that the sensitivity of an experiment searching for neutrinoless double beta decay with scintillating bolometers can compete with reach the present forefront technologies in the field.
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https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01315155
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 5:24:34 PM
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Michele Mancuso. Development and optimization of scintillating bolometers and innovative light detectors for a pilot underground experiment on neutrinoless double beta decay. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE); Università degli studi dell'Insubria (Varese, Italie), 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016SACLS083⟩. ⟨tel-01315155⟩

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