Research: Experimental Particle Astrophysics
Expertise: Neutrinos, dark matter, nuclear physics; the intersection of nuclear/particle physics and stellar and galactic astronomy
Daily life on Earth revolves around three physical laws—electromagnetism (governing atoms and light), gravity (keeping stars and planets together), and strong forces (making nuclei together). The Universe may be full of relics from a time when weak interactions were equally important; though these relics are hard to detect, they may have much to teach us about the nature of matter and the history of the cosmos.
I am an experimentalist who tries to interact with weakly-interacting particles using a broad array of techniques. With Joe Formaggio, I pioneered “cyclotron radiation electron spectroscopy”, an atomic-physics-inspired method of measuring nuclear beta decay, which we are working to build into “Project 8”, a large tritium decay experiment which will search for the mass of the neutrino. With many American and European collaborators, I work on the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment (KATRIN) which expects to collect its first tritium decay data (and obtain new neutrino-mass sensitivity) in 2017. I also work on new methods for building giant next-generation detectors for dark matter, neutrinoless double beta decay, proton decay, and neutrinos.