A novel technique of extracting UCN lifetimes from storage bottle measurements dominated by scattering losses

Prajwal Mohanmurthy, Joseph Formaggio, Daniel J. Salvat, Jeff A. Winger
Nuclear Experiment, Nuclear Experiment (nucl-ex)
Symmetry 15(10), 1899 (2023)
2023-12-19 00:00:00
Neutron lifetime is a critical parameter in the Standard Model. Its measurements using, particularly, the beamline and ultracold neutron storage techniques reveals serious tension. The status of the tension between various measurements have been presented, in light of the insights provided by the $\beta$-decay correlation measurements. When ultracold neutrons are stored in material bottles, they can be lost to various processes, such as $\beta$-decay and up-scattering on material walls. Here, we revisit the lifetime measurement in a material storage bottle, dominated by losses from scattering off the walls of the storage chamber. The neutron energy spectra and its associated uncertainties were, for the first time, well characterized. Such models have been used in the extraction of mean time between wall bounces, which is a key parameter for neutron storage disappearance experiments in search of neutron oscillation. A comparison between the loss model and the number of neutrons stored in a single chamber, used for the neutron electric dipole moment search, allowed us to extract a neutron lifetime of $\tau^*_n=879~({+158}/{-78})_{\text{stat.}}~(+230/-114)_{\text{sys.}}~\text{s~~(68.3\% C.I.)}$. Though the uncertainty on this lifetime is not competent with currently available measurements, the highlight of this work is that, we precisely identify the systematic sources of uncertainty that contribute to the neutron lifetime measurements in material storage bottles, namely from the uncertainty in the energy spectra, as well as the storage chamber parameters of Fermi potential and loss per bounce parameter. In doing so, we finally highlight the underestimation of the uncertainties in the previous Monte Carlo simulations of experiments using ultracold neutron storage in material bottles.
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