Magnificent CEvNS in Munich

5 July 2023
Magnificent CEvNS workshop
Hands on An ideal stage for young scientists at the fifth Magnificent CEvNS workshop hosted by the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation. Credit: A Wex

Coherent elastic neutrino–nucleus scattering (CEvNS) is a new neutrino-detection channel with the potential to test the Standard Model (SM) at low-momentum transfer and to search for new physics beyond the SM (BSM). It also has applications in nuclear physics, such as measurements of nuclear form factors, and the detection of solar and supernova neutrinos. In the SM, neutrinos interact with the nucleus as a whole, enhancing the cross section by approximately the neutron number squared. However, detection is challenging as the observable is the tiny recoil of the nucleus, which has an energy ranging from sub-keV to a few tens of keV depending on the nucleus and neutrino source. Several decades after its prediction, CEvNS was measured for the first time in 2017 by the COHERENT experiment and the field has grown rapidly since.

The aims of the Magnificent CEvNS workshop, named after the Hollywood Western, are to bring together the broad community of researchers working on CEvNS and promote student engagement and connection among experimentalists, theorists and phenomenologists in this new field. The first workshop was held in 2018 in Chicago, and the most recent in Munich from 22 to 24 March with 96 participants.

Examining CEvNS opens a multitude of promising ways to look for BSM interactions. Improved limits on generalised neutrino interactions, new light mediators and sterile neutrinos derived from the complete COHERENT dataset were presented. These data enable the nuclear radius to be probed in a new way. More physics potential was highlighted in talks showing limits on the Weinberg angle and dark matter (axion-like particles). Notable advances by reactor experiments include new limits on CEvNS on germanium by the CONUS and NuGen experiments, which disagree with the previously published Dresden-II results.

The talks underlined the large experimental effort toward a complete mapping of the neutron and energy dependence of the CEvNS cross section. The observation of CEvNS on CsI and Ar by the COHERENT experiment will be complemented with future measurements on targets ranging from light (sodium) to heavy (tungsten) elements in COHERENT and new facilities such as NUCLEUS and Ricochet. Precision will be achieved by increasing statistics in CEvNS events with larger target masses, lower detection thresholds and increased neutrino flux. Reducing systematic effects by characterising backgrounds and detector responses is also critical. The growing precision will trigger studies on BSM physics in the near future, complementing high-energy experimental efforts.

A half-day satellite workshop “Into the Blue Sky” was dedicated to new ideas related to the CEvNS community. These included measurements of neutrino-induced fission, and detector concepts based on latent damage to the crystalline structure of minerals and superconducting crystals. The workshop was followed by a school organised by the Collaborative Research Center “Neutrinos and Dark Matter in Astro- and Particle Physics” at TU Munich from 27 to 29 March. Six lectures covered the fundamentals of low-energy neutrino physics with a focus on CEvNS, backgrounds, neutrino sources and detectors. The 40 participants then applied this knowledge by creating a fictional micro-CEvNS experiment.

Half a century since it was proposed theoretically, the physics accessible with CEvNS is proving to be extensive. The next Magnificent CEvNS workshop will take place next year at a new location and the participants are looking forward to further exploration of the CEvNS frontier.

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