Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre

Neutrino Physics

Another major research platform at SNOLAB is the investigation into the nature of the neutrino. One of the highest priorities is to search for evidence for a nuclear decay process known as neutrinoless double beta decay.

SNO and other experiments have demonstrated that neutrinos oscillate and thus must possess mass. The actual mass is not yet determined, but it must be very small compared with the other fundamental particles. This raises questions as to whether the same mechanism that gives mass to the other particles through the Higgs field can be responsible for neutrino mass, or if some other mechanism is responsible.

Observation of neutrinoless double beta decay would shed light on this by showing that the neutrino is its own antiparticle, and the rate of decay would provide insight on the neutrino mass. It might also lead to an understanding of the source of asymmetry in the early Universe that led to matter domination over anti-matter. Other neutrino programs include measurements to improve understanding of solar fusion reactions, supernova explosions and the origins of heat in the earth. These neutrino experiments must be large in size, located very deep underground and have exquisitely low radiological backgrounds.

The current and planned research program at SNOLAB includes the following: