Kirsten McMichael, RPI

The neutrino is one of nature’s most elusive constituents, yet this tiny, neutral particle may be the key to unlocking some of the universe’s oldest secrets. With hopes of learning more about the neutrino, members of the nEXO collaboration are on a quest to detect a process called neutrinoless double beta decay. This event is so rare that it is predicted to occur only once in a time period that is one million billion times the age of the universe (1015 years). To improve the odds of detection, the nEXO experiment will utilize a ton-scale time projection chamber (TPC) designed to be built at SNOLAB in Canada and filled with approximately 1028 atoms of xenon-136 thus allowing the decay to theoretically occur a few times per year within the detector. If nEXO is successful in observing neutrinoless double beta decay a wealth of new physics will be uncovered including a disruption to the standard model via lepton number conservation breaking, bounds to the effective neutrino mass, and a possible solution to the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe. In this talk I will provide an introduction to the physics behind neutrinoless double beta decay and discuss how the nEXO collaboration plans to observe such a rare event.