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Detection of small numbers of barium ions implanted in solid xenon for the EXO experiment




Cook, Shon, author
Fairbank, William, advisor
Lee, Siu Au, committee member
Roberts, Jacob, committee member
Bartels, Randy, committee member

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In an effort to discover the yet-unknown absolute masses of neutrinos, the goal of the Enriched Xenon Observatory is to observe neutrinoless double beta decay of 136Xe. Identification of this very rare decay may be difficult even with the best conventional efforts to reduce and reject radioactive background, thus requiring additional background rejection via detection of the daughter 136Ba nucleus. One method of detection is laser-induced fluorescence of the barium atom in solid xenon. Spectra of very small numbers of barium atoms in solid xenon, as few as 3 atoms, are reported for the first time. Demonstration of detection of Ba atoms with large fluorescence efficiencies gives promise for detecting single atoms in the near future. Results from experiments involving implantation of Ba+ ions in solid xenon are discussed. One narrow excitation peak was discovered from ion beam deposition that was not found in neutral deposits. Five new emission lines are found with this same excitation spectrum. Bleaching, annealing, and laser dependence of these lines are studied. The identification of the new Ba species as Ba+ or as a barium molecule is discussed.


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