Albert Einstein Center for Fundamental Physics

AEC Particle Trail


Electron Neutrino Sign at Grosse Schanze

Neutrinos were predicted by W. Pauli in 1930 to explain the missing energy observed in electrons produced in nuclear beta decays.
It took 26 years from their prediction to the discovery of the electron neutrino, the first neutrino to be experimentally found. In 1956, C. Cowan and F. Reines conducted an underground experiment placed next to a nuclear reactor, which produces a huge amount of (anti-)neutrinos via beta decay of radioactive products from Uranium fission.

Neutrinos are difficult to measure because they are only weakly interacting particles: they interact so rarely that they can cross the entire Earth. Each second, about 100 billion neutrinos pass through your thumbnail without interacting!

Neutrinos are essential for the description of weak decays, and for reasons of symmetry, for every charged lepton, i.e. electron, muon, tauon, there must be a neutral neutrino.

The AEC at the University of Bern is involved in several neutrino experiments, developing and constructing novel detectors and analysing the data already collected. These experiments will help gain new insights into the properties of neutrinos, which in turn will improve our understanding of the Universe and shed light on some of the unanswered questions in nature.