, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 17-26
Date: 21 Oct 2008

First measurements with the neutron decay spectrometer a SPECT

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Abstract

The neutron decay spectrometera SPECT has been built to perform a precise measurement of the proton spectrum shape in the decay of free neutrons. Such a measurement allows a determination of the neutrino electron angular-correlation coefficienta . The present best experiments have an uncertainty of Δa/a = 5% and since the seventies there is no substantial improvement. Witha SPECT, we aim for an uncertainty which is lower by more than an order of magnitude, thus enabling us to perform several precise tests of the Standard Model. In our first beam time at the particle physics beam MEPHISTO at the Forschungsneutronenquelle Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, we studied the properties of the spectrometer. The most serious problem turned out to be the situation- and time-dependent behavior of the background. From the data sets from this beam time in which a background problem was not obvious, we could extract a value ofa = - 0.1151±0.0040stat , but we could not quantify the background uncertainty. We show ways to deal with the background and other problems for future beam times.