Dark Matter

Prof. Susanne Mertens

Research Field

We study the elusive particle, the neutrino, to unlock fundamental mysteries of physics: What is our universe made of? How did structures evolve? Why is our world made of matter and not anti-matter?

Despite major discoveries in the last decades, the neutrino is still one of the most mysterious particles of the standard model of particle physics: What is its mass? Is it its own antiparticle? Does there exist a right-handed partner to the known left-handed neutrino, a so called sterile neutrino? Exploring these properties will help us understand fundamental open questions about our universe.

The Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino (KATRIN) Experiment will directly measure the absolute neutrino mass. The knowledge of the neutrino mass will have a crucial impact on understanding the structure formation in the early universe. KATRIN is situated at the KIT in Karlsruhe and will start data taking in 2017. With an upgraded multi pixel Si-detector system, called TRISTAN, KATRIN can extend its physics goal to also search for keV-scale sterile neutrinos. This new neutrino species is an ideal candidate for Dark Matter. Our group is leading the sterile neutrino search with KATRIN

Besides KATRIN, our group is involved in the search for neutrinoless double beta decay (0nbb) with the MAJORANA experiment. The discovery of this process would proof that the neutrino is its own antiparticle, which in turn can help us understand the matter anti-matter asymmetry of the universe. MAJORANA and the closely related experiment GERDA plan to join in the near future to perform the ultimate search for this ultra-rare decay.

Members of the Research Group



Course with Participations of Group Members

Titel und Modulzuordnung
Astro-Particle Physics 2
Zuordnung zu Modulen:
VU 4 Mertens, S.

Nuclei, Particles, Astrophysics

A journey of discovery to understanding our world at the subatomic scale, from the nuclei inside atoms down to the most elementary building blocks of matter. Are you ready for the adventure?