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Advances in High Energy Physics
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 293986, 39 pages
Review Article

Current Direct Neutrino Mass Experiments

1Institut für Experimentelle Kernphysik, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany
2Institut für Kernphysik, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany

Received 12 July 2012; Accepted 9 October 2012

Academic Editor: Arthur B. McDonald

Copyright © 2013 G. Drexlin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this contribution, we review the status and perspectives of direct neutrino mass experiments, which investigate the kinematics of -decays of specific isotopes (3H, 187Re, 163Ho) to derive model-independent information on the averaged electron (anti)neutrino mass. After discussing the kinematics of -decay and the determination of the neutrino mass, we give a brief overview of past neutrino mass measurements (SN1987a-ToF studies, Mainz and Troitsk experiments for 3H, cryobolometers for 187Re). We then describe the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino (KATRIN) experiment currently under construction at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which will use the MAC-E-Filter principle to push the sensitivity down to a value of 200 meV (90% C.L.). To do so, many technological challenges have to be solved related to source intensity and stability, as well as precision energy analysis and low background rate close to the kinematic endpoint of tritium -decay at 18.6 keV. We then review new approaches such as the MARE, ECHO, and Project8 experiments, which offer the promise to perform an independent measurement of the neutrino mass in the sub-eV region. Altogether, the novel methods developed in direct neutrino mass experiments will provide vital information on the absolute mass scale of neutrinos.