Ch. Weinheimer

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Carlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

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Publications (160)320.94 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the sensitivity of tritium $\beta$-decay experiments for keV-scale sterile neutrinos. Relic sterile neutrinos in the keV mass range can contribute both to the cold and warm dark matter content of the universe. This work shows that a large-scale tritium beta-decay experiment, similar to the KATRIN experiment that is under construction, can reach a statistical sensitivity of the active-sterile neutrino mixing of $\sin^2\theta \sim 10^{-8}$. The effect of uncertainties in the known theoretical corrections to the tritium $\beta$-decay spectrum were investigated, and found not to affect the sensitivity significantly. It is demonstrated that controlling uncorrelated systematic effects will be one of the main challenges in such an experiment.
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    ABSTRACT: The radioactive isomer $^{83\mathrm{m}}$Kr has many properties that make it very useful for various applications. Its low energy decay products, like conversion, shake-off and Auger electrons as well as X- and $\gamma$-rays are used for calibration purposes in neutrino mass experiments and direct dark matter detection experiments. Thanks to the short half-life of 1.83 h and the decay to the ground state $^{83}$Kr, one does not risk contamination of any low-background experiment with long- lived radionuclides. In this paper, we present two new applications of $^{83\mathrm{m}}$Kr. It can be used as a radioactive tracer in noble gases to characterize the particle flow inside of gas routing systems. A method of doping $^{83\mathrm{m}}$Kr into xenon gas and its detection, using special custom-made detectors, based on a photomultiplier tube, is described. This technique has been used to determine the circulation speed of gas particles inside of a gas purification system for xenon. Furthermore, 83m Kr can be used to rapidly estimate separation performance of a distillation system.
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    ABSTRACT: The KATRIN experiment will measure the absolute mass scale of neutrinos with a sensitivity of mν = 200meV/c2 by means of an electrostatic spectrometer set close to the tritium β-decay endpoint at 18.6keV. Fluctuations of the energy scale must be under control within ±60mV (±3ppm). Since a precise voltage measurement in the range of tens of kV is on the edge of current technology, a nuclear standard will be deployed additionally. Parallel to the main spectrometer the same retarding potential will be applied to the monitor spectrometer to measure 17.8-keV K-conversion electrons of 83mKr. This article describes the setup of the monitor spectrometer and presents its first measurement results.
    Journal of Instrumentation 06/2014; 9(06):P06022. · 1.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: XENON is a direct detection dark matter project, consisting of a time projection chamber (TPC) that uses xenon in double phase as a sensitive detection medium. XENON100, located at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Italy, is one of the most sensitive experiments of its field. During the operation of XENON100, the design and construction of the next generation detector (of ton-scale mass) of the XENON project, XENON1T, is taking place. XENON1T is being installed at LNGS as well. It has the goal to reduce the background by two orders of magnitude compared to XENON100, aiming at a sensitivity of $2 \cdot 10^{-47} \mathrm{cm}^{\mathrm{2}}$ for a WIMP mass of 50 GeV/c$^{2}$. With this goal, an active system that is able to tag muons and their induced backgrounds is crucial. This active system will consist of a water Cherenkov detector realized with a water volume $\sim$10 m high and $\sim$10 m in diameter, equipped with photomultipliers of 8 inches diameter and a reflective foil. In this paper we present the design and optimization study for this muon veto water Cherenkov detector, which has been carried out with a series of Monte Carlo simulations, based on the GEANT4 toolkit. This study showed the possibility to reach very high detection efficiencies in tagging the passage of both the muon and the shower of secondary particles coming from the interaction of the muon in the rock: >99.5% for the former type of events (which represent $\sim$ 1/3 of all the cases) and >70% for the latter type of events (which represent $\sim$ 2/3 of all the cases). In view of the upgrade of XENON1T, that will aim to an improvement in sensitivity of one order of magnitude with a rather easy doubling of the xenon mass, the results of this study have been verified in the upgraded geometry, obtaining the same conclusions.
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first results of searches for axions and axion-like-particles with the XENON100 experiment. The axion-electron coupling constant, $g_{Ae}$, has been tested by exploiting the axio-electric effect in liquid xenon. A profile likelihood analysis of 224.6 live days $\times$ 34 kg exposure has shown no evidence for a signal. By rejecting $g_{Ae}$, larger than $7.7 \times 10^{-12}$ (90% CL) in the solar axion search, we set the best limit to date on this coupling. In the frame of the DFSZ and KSVZ models, we exclude QCD axions heavier than 0.3 eV/c$^2$ and 80 eV/c$^2$, respectively. For axion-like-particles, under the assumption that they constitute the whole abundance of dark matter in our galaxy, we constrain $g_{Ae}$, to be lower than $1 \times 10^{-12}$ (90% CL) for masses between 5 and 10 keV/c$^2$.
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we describe a new variant of null ellipsometry to determine thicknesses and optical properties of thin films on a substrate at cryogenic temperatures. In the PCSA arrangement of ellipsometry the polarizer and the compensator are placed before the substrate and the analyzer after it. Usually, in the null ellipsometry the polarizer and the analyzer are rotated to find the searched minimum in intensity. In our variant we rotate the polarizer and the compensator instead, both being placed in the incoming beam before the substrate. Therefore the polarisation analysis of the reflected beam can be realized by an analyzer at fixed orientation. We developed this method for investigations of thin cryogenic films inside a vacuum chamber where the analyzer and detector had to be placed inside the cold shield at a temperature of T ≈ 90 K close to the substrate. All other optical components were installed at the incoming beam line outside the vacuum chamber, including all components which need to be rotated during the measurements. Our null ellipsometry variant has been tested with condensed krypton films on a highly oriented pyrolytic graphite substrate (HOPG) at a temperature of T ≈ 25 K. We show that it is possible to determine the indices of refraction of condensed krypton and of the HOPG substrate as well as thickness of krypton films with reasonable accuracy.
    The Review of scientific instruments 12/2013; 84(12):123103. · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The XENON100 dark matter experiment uses liquid xenon in a time projection chamber (TPC) to measure xenon nuclear recoils resulting from the scattering of dark matter Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). In this paper, we report the observation of single-electron charge signals which are not related to WIMP interactions. These signals, which show the excellent sensitivity of the detector to small charge signals, are explained as being due to the photoionization of impurities in the liquid xenon and of the metal components inside the TPC. They are used as a unique calibration source to characterize the detector. We explain how we can infer crucial parameters for the XENON100 experiment: the secondary-scintillation gain, the extraction yield from the liquid to the gas phase and the electron drift velocity.
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    ABSTRACT: The KATRIN (KArlsruhe TRItium Neutrino) experiment aims to determine the mass of the electron antineutrino with a sensitivity of 200meV by precisely measuring the electron spectrum of the tritium beta decay. This will be done by the use of a retarding spectrometer of the MAC-E-Filter type. To achieve the desired sensitivity the stability of the retarding potential of -18.6kV has to be monitored with a precision of 3ppm over at least two months. Since this is not feasible with commercial devices, two ppm-class high voltage dividers were developed, following the concept of the standard divider for DC voltages of up to 100kV of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). In order to reach such high accuracies different effects have to be considered. The two most important ones are the temperature dependence of resistance and leakage currents, caused by insulators or corona discharges. For the second divider improvements were made concerning the high-precision resistors and the thermal design of the divider. The improved resistors are the result of a cooperation with the manufacturer. The design improvements, the investigation and the selection of the resistors, the built-in ripple probe and the calibrations at PTB will be reported here. The latter demonstrated a stability of about 0.1ppm/month over a period of two years.
    Journal of Instrumentation. 09/2013; 8(10).
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    ABSTRACT: The XENON100 experiment, installed underground at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), aims to directly detect dark matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) via their elastic scattering off xenon nuclei. This paper presents a study on the nuclear recoil background of the experiment, taking into account neutron backgrounds from ($\alpha$,n) and spontaneous fission reactions due to natural radioactivity in the detector and shield materials, as well as muon-induced neutrons. Based on Monte Carlo simulations and using measured radioactive contaminations of all detector components, we predict the nuclear recoil backgrounds for the WIMP search results published by the XENON100 experiment in 2011 and 2012, 0.11$^{+0.08}_{-0.04}$ events and 0.17$^{+0.12}_{-0.07}$ events, respectively, and conclude that they do not limit the sensitivity of the experiment.
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    ABSTRACT: A single photon counting system has been developed for efficient detection of forward emitted fluorescence photons at the Experimental Storage Ring (ESR) at GSI. The system employs a movable parabolic mirror with a central slit that can be positioned around the ion beam and a selected low noise photomultiplier for detection of the collected photons. Compared to the previously used system of mirror segments installed inside the ESR the collection efficiency for forward-emitted photons is improved by more than a factor of 5. No adverse effects on the stored ion beam have been observed during operation besides a small drop in the ion current of about 5% during movement of the mirror into the beam position. The new detection system has been used in the LIBELLE experiment at ESR and enabled for the first time the detection of the ground-state hyperfine M1 transition in lithium-like bismuth (209Bi80+) in a laser-spectroscopy measurement.
    Journal of Instrumentation. 05/2013; 8(09).
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    ABSTRACT: XENON100 is the current phase of the XENON dark matter program, which aims for the direct detection of WIMPs with liquid xenon time-projection chambers. We present the status of the experiment after 224.6 live days taken in 2011 and 2012 during which the detector successfully improved in terms of more calibration data, higher xenon purity, lower threshold and better background removal. The analysis has yielded no evidence for dark matter interactions. The status of the next generation XENON1T detector will be briefly described.
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    ABSTRACT: An optical technique to study the longitudinal distribution of ions in a bunched ion beam circulating in a storage ring is presented. It is based on the arrival-time analysis of photons emitted after collisional excitation of residual gas molecules. The beam-induced fluorescence was investigated in the ultraviolet regime with a channeltron and in the visible region using a photomultiplier tube. Both were applied to investigate the longitudinal shape of bunched and electron-cooled 209Bi80+ ion beams at about 400 MeV/u in the experimental storage ring (ESR) at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, Germany. Bunch lengths were determined with an uncertainty of about 0.5 m using the UV-sensitive channeltron and with slightly lower accuracy from the photomultiplier data due to the slower transitions in the red region of the spectrum. The Gaussian shape of the longitudinal distribution of ions inside the bunch was confirmed. With the information of the transverse beam size that can be measured simultaneously by a newly installed ionization profile monitor (IPM) at the ESR, an accurate determination of the ion density in the bunched beam will be allowed.
    Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A Accelerators Spectrometers Detectors and Associated Equipment 05/2013; · 1.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Results from the nuclear recoil calibration of the XENON100 dark matter detector installed underground at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), Italy are presented. Data from measurements with an external 241AmBe neutron source are compared with a detailed Monte Carlo simulation which is used to extract the energy dependent charge-yield Qy and relative scintillation efficiency Leff. A very good level of absolute spectral matching is achieved in both observable signal channels - scintillation S1 and ionization S2 - along with agreement in the 2-dimensional particle discrimination space. The results confirm the validity of the derived signal acceptance in earlier reported dark matter searches of the XENON100 experiment.
    Physical Review D 04/2013; 88. · 4.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present new experimental constraints on the elastic, spin-dependent WIMP-nucleon cross section using recent data from the XENON100 experiment, operated in the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy. An analysis of 224.6 live days x 34 kg of exposure acquired during 2011 and 2012 revealed no excess signal due to axial-vector WIMP interactions with 129-Xe and 131-Xe nuclei. This leads to the most stringent upper limits on WIMP-neutron cross sections for WIMP masses above 6 GeV, with a minimum cross section of 3.5 x 10^{-40} cm^2 at a WIMP mass of 45 GeV, at 90% confidence level.
    Physical Review Letters 01/2013; · 7.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The XENON100 experiment, installed underground at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, aims to directly detect dark matter in the form of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) via their elastic scattering off xenon nuclei. This paper presents a study on the nuclear recoil background of the experiment, taking into account neutron backgrounds from (α, n) reactions and spontaneous fission due to natural radioactivity in the detector and shield materials, as well as muon-induced neutrons. Based on Monte Carlo simulations and using measured radioactive contaminations of all detector components, we predict the nuclear recoil backgrounds for the WIMP search results published by the XENON100 experiment in 2011 and 2012, 0.11 events and 0.17 events, respectively, and conclude that they do not limit the sensitivity of the experiment.
    Journal of Physics G Nuclear and Particle Physics 01/2013; 40:115201. · 5.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The KATRIN experiment aims at the direct model-independent determination of the average electron neutrino mass via the measurement of the endpoint region of the tritium beta decay spectrum. The electron spectrometer of the MAC-E filter type is used, requiring very high stability of the electric filtering potential. This work proves the feasibility of implanted 83Rb/83mKr calibration electron sources which will be utilised in the additional monitor spectrometer sharing the high voltage with the main spectrometer of KATRIN. The source employs conversion electrons of 83mKr which is continuously generated by 83Rb. The K-32 conversion line (kinetic energy of 17.8 keV, natural line width of 2.7 eV) is shown to fulfill the KATRIN requirement of the relative energy stability of +/-1.6 ppm/month. The sources will serve as a standard tool for continuous monitoring of KATRIN's energy scale stability with sub-ppm precision. They may also be used in other applications where the precise conversion lines can be separated from the low energy spectrum caused by the electron inelastic scattering in the substrate.
    Journal of Instrumentation 01/2013; 8:P03009. · 1.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The XENON100 experiment, in operation at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in Italy, was designed to search for evidence of dark matter interactions inside a volume of liquid xenon using a dual-phase time projection chamber. This paper describes the Slow Control System (SCS) of the experiment with emphasis on the distributed architecture as well as on its modular and expandable nature. The system software was designed according to the rules of Object-Oriented Programming and coded in Java, thus promoting code reusability and maximum flexibility during commissioning of the experiment. The SCS has been continuously monitoring the XENON100 detector since mid 2008, remotely recording hundreds of parameters on a few dozen instruments in real time, and setting emergency alarms for the most important variables.
    Journal of Instrumentation 11/2012; 7(12). · 1.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report on a search for particle dark matter with the XENON100 experiment, operated at the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso for 13 months during 2011 and 2012. XENON100 features an ultralow electromagnetic background of (5.3±0.6)×10^{-3}  events/(keV_{ee}×kg×day) in the energy region of interest. A blind analysis of 224.6 live days×34  kg exposure has yielded no evidence for dark matter interactions. The two candidate events observed in the predefined nuclear recoil energy range of 6.6-30.5  keV_{nr} are consistent with the background expectation of (1.0±0.2) events. A profile likelihood analysis using a 6.6-43.3  keV_{nr} energy range sets the most stringent limit on the spin-independent elastic weakly interacting massive particle-nucleon scattering cross section for weakly interacting massive particle masses above 8  GeV/c^{2}, with a minimum of 2×10^{-45}  cm^{2} at 55  GeV/c^{2} and 90% confidence level.
    Physical Review Letters 11/2012; 109(18):181301. · 7.73 Impact Factor
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    G. Drexlin, V. Hannen, S. Mertens, C. Weinheimer
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    ABSTRACT: In this contribution, we review the status and perspectives of direct neutrinomass experiments, which investigate the kinematics of 𝛽-decays of specific isotopes (3H, 187Re, 163Ho) to derive model-independent information on the averaged electron (anti)neutrino mass. After discussing the kinematics of 𝛽-decay and the determination of the neutrino mass, we give a brief overview of past neutrino mass measurements (SN1987a-ToF studies, Mainz and Troitsk experiments for 3H, cryobolometers for 187Re). We then describe the Karlsruhe TritiumNeutrino (KATRIN) experiment currently under construction at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which will use the MAC-E-Filter principle to push the sensitivity down to a value of 200meV (90% C.L.). To do so, many technological challenges have to be solved related to source intensity and stability, as well as precision energy analysis and low background rate close to the kinematic endpoint of tritium 𝛽-decay at 18.6 keV.We then review new approaches such as the MARE, ECHO, and Project8 experiments, which offer the promise to perform an independent measurement of the neutrino mass in the sub-eV region. Altogether, the novel methods developed in direct neutrino mass experiments will provide vital information on the absolute mass scale of neutrinos.
    Advances in High Energy Physics 10/2012; 2013. · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In a recent manuscript (arXiv:1208.5046) Peter Sorensen claims that XENON100's upper limits on spin-independent WIMP-nucleon cross sections for WIMP masses below 10 GeV "may be understated by one order of magnitude or more". Having performed a similar, though more detailed analysis prior to the submission of our new result (arXiv:1207.5988), we do not confirm these findings. We point out the rationale for not considering the described effect in our final analysis and list several potential problems with his study.

Publication Stats

1k Citations
320.94 Total Impact Points


  • 2006–2014
    • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
      • Institut für Technische Physik
      Carlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2010–2013
    • Columbia University
      • Department of Physics
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2006–2013
    • University of Münster
      • Institute of Nuclear Physics
      Muenster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2012
    • Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    • Rice University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2011
    • Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
      • Ústav jaderné fyziky
      Praha, Hlavni mesto Praha, Czech Republic
    • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
      Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 1992–2010
    • Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
      • Institute of Physics
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • 2009
    • Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
      Brunswyck, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2006–2009
    • Florida State University
      • Department of Physics
      Tallahassee, FL, United States
  • 2003–2009
    • University of Bonn
      • Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2008
    • Universität Basel
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
  • 2005–2008
    • Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
      • II. Physikalisches Institut
      Gießen, Hesse, Germany
  • 2002
    • Joint Institute for Nuclear Research
      Dubno, Moskovskaya, Russia
  • 2001
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison
      • Department of Physics
      Madison, MS, United States
  • 1996–1999
    • Kinki University
      Ōsaka, Ōsaka, Japan
  • 1998
    • Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
      H̱efa, Haifa District, Israel