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Colloquium | Physics Division

The Nuclear Theory of Neutrinoless Double-Beta Decay

PHY Colloquium

Abstract: Groups around the world are gearing up to construct ton-scale experiments to observe neutrinoless double-beta decay, which, if it occurs, has profound implications for fundamental physics. To plan such experiments and extract useful information from their results, one needs values for the nuclear matrix elements that help determine the decay rate. These matrix elements cannot be measured and so we must use our knowledge of nuclear physics to compute them. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a five-year topical collaboration with the goal of providing accurate nuclear matrix elements with quantified uncertainty. I report on recent progress made by the collaboration, with emphasis on nuclear structure but also with some discussion of quantum chromodynamics and effective field theories.

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