Sensitivity of the NEXT experiment to Xe-124 double electron capture

The NEXT collaboration

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Double electron capture by proton-rich nuclei is a second-order nuclear process analogous to double beta decay. Despite their similarities, the decay signature is quite different, potentially providing a new channel to measure the hypothesized neutrinoless mode of these decays. The Standard-Model-allowed two-neutrino double electron capture (2νEC EC) has been predicted for a number of isotopes, but only observed in 78Kr, 130Ba and, recently, 124Xe. The sensitivity to this decay establishes a benchmark for the ultimate experimental goal, namely the potential to discover also the lepton-number-violating neutrinoless version of this process, 0νEC EC. Here we report on the current sensitivity of the NEXT-White detector to 124Xe 2νEC EC and on the extrapolation to NEXT-100. Using simulated data for the 2νEC EC signal and real data from NEXT-White operated with 124Xe-depleted gas as background, we define an optimal event selection that maximizes the NEXT-White sensitivity. We estimate that, for NEXT-100 operated with xenon gas isotopically enriched with 1 kg of 124Xe and for a 5-year run, a sensitivity to the 2νEC EC half-life of 6 × 1022 y (at 90% confidence level) or better can be reached. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number203
JournalJournal of High Energy Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Dark Matter and Double Beta Decay (experiments)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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