Institute for Astroparticle Physics


Helmholtz University Young Investigators Group at IAP



Analysis of KATRIN Data to Measure the Neutrino Mass and Search for New Physics

Group leader: Prof. Dr. Kathrin Valerius

The as yet unknown neutrino masses play a key role in our understanding of nature at cosmological as well as subatomic scales. Due to the smallness of neutrino masses, the determination of their absolute scale is a challenging experimental task.

The Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment (KATRIN) is targeted to improve the sensitivity for the neutrino mass in kinematic studies of tritium beta decay by one order of magnitude.

During the ongoing construction and commissioning phase of KATRIN the work of the young investigator group focuses on the detailed study and understanding of systematic effects related to the properties of the gaseous molecular tritium source, which form the largest contribution to KATRIN's overall systematic measurement uncertainty. The group is also strongly involved in preparing strategies and tools for the analysis of the first neutrino mass data, and it will contribute substantially to KATRIN's mission towards a precision neutrino mass measurement.

Moreover, the unprecedented quality of the tritium beta spectrum measured with KATRIN will allow to search for novel physics phenomena manifesting around the spectral endpoint. In the second phase of its work programme, the young investigator group will thus exploit high-statistics data to broaden KATRIN's physics reach by addressing these fascinating questions. This includes the search for contributions of right-handed weak currents, violation of Lorentz invariance, eV-scale light sterile neutrinos, or putting constraints on potential local overdensities of cosmic relic neutrinos.