A consortium of knowledge institutions and public stakeholders, led by UvA physicist Auke Pieter Colijn, was awarded a 1.1 million euro NWA-ORC grant to study so-called ‘relic neutrinos’ that came into existence in the very first second after the Big Bang.
Every second Earth is bombarded with an enormous number of neutrinos from the cosmos. These neutrinos were created in the primordial soup one second after the Big Bang, but they have never been observed. In the proposed research, the consortium will develop an experiment to observe these relic neutrinos by investigating the decay of heavy-hydrogen tritium. The proposed project is called PTOLEMY, and is a new method to measure such low-energy particles. This is particularly difficult because neutrinos hardly interact with ordinary matter, such as a detector. If this is possible with the proposed detector, it will be a groundbreaking result.
Besides the University of Amsterdam, the consortium, for which Auke Pieter Colijn is the coordinator and which also involves UvA physicist Shin’ichiro Ando, consists of the Radboud Universiteit, De Haagse Hogeschool (The Hague University of Applied Sciences), TNO, the Princeton Physics Department, the Laboratorio Nazionale di Gran Sasso (LNGS), the Netherlands’ Physical Society (NNV), Ampulz, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).