Donostia International Physics Center & Ikerbasque
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP)
If neutrinos, the most elusive particles of the Standard Model, are their own antiparticle (i.e., they are Majorana particles), they may have played a key role in the creation of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the early Universe, which has originated the Universe as we see it now. An unambiguous proof of the Majorana nature of neutrinos is the observation of a rare nuclear decay, where two neutrons convert into two protons, with the emission of two electrons and zero neutrinos: the neutrinoless double beta decay.
NEXT is a high pressure gaseous xenon Time Projection Chamber, placed in the Canfranc Underground Laboratory, which looks for neutrinoless double beta decay, measuring the scintillation light of xenon with PMTs and SiPMs. The high scintillation yield and the fast scintillation decay time of xenon makes this a very interesting material for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners. PET is a non-invasive imaging technique, which allows to image the metabolic activity of the body, therefore it is widely used for a variety of applications, for instance to locate tumors and detect neurological diseases.
In this talk, I will describe these two apparently distant areas of research, introducing the PETALO project, a novel approach to PET imaging, based on liquid xenon scintillation cells, read out by silicon photomultipliers.