“It’s astounding!” exclaims Felix Jordan, VAT Sales Manager. “The scientific team of scientists working on the KATRIN experiment recently reported that an upper limit of 0.8 eV for the mass of the neutrino. This is a level of precision we have never seen anywhere in the world before.”

As reported last year by VAT in “VAT Boosts KATRIN’s Quest for the Neutrino Mass,” a neutrino is a subatomic particle similar to an electron but has no electrical charge and a very small mass. Because of their abundance in the universe, measuring the mass of neutrinos could bring scientists closer to a better understanding of the universe – a central goal of the KATRIN experiment at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

The KATRIN research team used the beta decay of tritium, a highly radioactive isotope of hydrogen, to determine the neutrino’s mass via the energy distribution of electrons released in the decay process. Using KATRIN’s giant spectrometer, the largest ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) vessel in the world, they measured the energy of decay electrons with unprecedented precision.

The results of this experiment have broken a significant “barrier” in the hunt for the mass of the neutrino,” adds Felix Jordan. “This latest measurement represents a new frontier for the field of particle physics.”

The KATRIN is an experiment with the most exacting technological requirements, which posed a comprehensive technical challenge for the VAT vacuum valve solution. “Because of the punishing radiation levels, extreme temperatures, and demands of the UHV environment, the excellent leak tightness and functional stability of the specified VAT valves were ideal for this application,” surmises. Felix Jordan.

The KATRIN experiment installed both the VAT Series 10.8 gate valves, used specifically in UHV environments, and the VAT Series 54.1 all-metal angle valves, designed for extreme UHV conditions, high-radiation levels, and high temperatures.

“The breakthrough results of the neutrino mass measurement reported by the KATRIN experiment also speak for the performance and stability of the VAT vacuum valve solution,” concludes Felix Jordan. “We are very excited to be part of this success story!”