The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded the ERC Starting Grant 2016 to Manuela Cavallaro , researcher at the Southern National Laboratories (LNS) of the INFN in Catania.
The name of the project is NURE (NUclear REactions for neutrinoless double beta decay) and the € 1,271 million grant is the full amount of funding requested. There were almost 3,000 applications and the European Research Council has awarded 325 ERC-2016-SGTs to young European researchers, for a total of € 485 million.
The purpose of the NURE project is to investigate certain aspects of the nature of neutrinos. We will study their mass, and test the hypothesis proposed by Ettore Majorana about 80 years ago on the dual identity of neutrinos. According to this hypothesis, a neutrino is both a tiny particle of matter and its own antimatter counterpart: an antineutrino.
Specifically, our project is an experimental contribution to the measurement of one of nature's building blocks, the nuclear matrix element, which links the average life of the nucleus that decays to the mass of the neutrino. Up until now this has been based on theoretical models. In this respect, our experiment can be considered complementary to others conducted elsewhere, for instance at the Gran Sasso National Laboratories (LNGS) of the INFN.