Precision Background Stability and Response Calibration in Borexino: Prospects for Wideband, Precision Solar Neutrino Spectroscopy and BSM Neutrino Oscillometry Through a Deeper Detector Understanding

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Virginia Tech


This work sets out to be a description of the initiatives utilizing the Borexino liquid scintillator neutrino observatory to perform the first direct, high-precision, wideband solar neutrino spectroscopy measurement of the the solar neutrino spectrum's main components, as well as its next-generation short-baseline source program (SOX). Its original scope revolved around the creation of a O(MCi) ⁵¹Cr source to be inserted under the detector, intended to explore the small region of the anomaly-favored sin²θ₁₄/Δm₁₄² phase space where sterile neutrinos may lie -or otherwise unambiguously measure or disprove signs of anomalous oscillatory behavior in low L/E electron-neutrinos and antineutrinos. Investigating the feasibility and optimization of producing such a large amount of ⁵¹Cr for the source, by irradiating chromium material in a high-flux reactor, required extensive simulative work with the MCNP-5 neutronics code.

With the switch of pace toward a ¹⁴Ce-¹⁴⁴Pr electron-antineutrino source, this work was re-oriented toward the efforts to re-calibrate the detector after the 2009-10 campaign, improving and expanding upon it by the introduction of new source fabrication techniques, a source positioning LED device, and a re-evaluation of the objectives sought after, fitting the needs of Borexino's Phase 2 priorities. Indeed, the detector's unprecedented and record-setting background levels are tightening its requirement for background stability. Aiming to reduce fluctuations in 210Po levels that remain problematic in Borexino's quest to lower the upper limit of the solar CNO neutrino flux (or even measure it), among other components, a new Temperature Monitoring and Management System was deployed and associated tools necessary to fully utilize it were developed as part of the present work. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations in 2D and 3D, conductive and fully convective, were also developed in collaboration with Dr Riccardo Mereu of Milan's Polytechnic Institute in order to model, characterize and ultimately predict the subtle fluid currents (around 10⁻⁷) m/s) that may be of concern for the required background stability. A brief discussion of the recent >5sigma measurement of geo-neutrinos by Borexino, a complementary part of the work for this thesis, is presented as well.



Neutrino, Borexino, Solar spectroscopy, Fluid-dynamics, metallicity, calibration