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Palermo, Matteo (2016): The Muon-Induced Neutron Indirect Detection EXperiment, MINIDEX. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Physik



A new experiment to measure muon-induced neutrons is introduced. The design of the Muon-Induced Neutron Indirect Detection EXperiment, MINIDEX, is presented and its installation and commissioning in the Tueubingen Shallow Underground Laboratory are described. Results from its first data taking period, run I, are presented. Muon-induced neutrons are not only an interesting physics topic by itself, but they are also an important source of background in searches for possible new rare phenomena like neutrinoless double beta decay or directly observable interactions of dark matter. These subjects are of great importance to understand the development of the early universe. Therefore, a new generation of ton-scale experiments which require extremely low background levels is under consideration. Reliable Monte Carlo simulations are needed to design such future experiments and estimate their background levels and sensitivities. The background due to muon-induced neutrons is hard to estimate, because of inconsistencies between different experimental results and discrepancies between measurements and Monte Carlo predictions. Especially for neutron production in high-Z materials, more experimental data and related simulation studies are clearly needed. MINIDEX addresses exactly this subject. Already the first five months of data taking provided valuable data on neutron production, propagation and interaction in lead. A first round of comparisons between MINIDEX data and Monte Carlo predictions are presented. In particular, the predictions of two Monte Carlo packages, based on GEANT4, are compared to the data. The data show an overall 70{100% higher rate of muon-induced events than predicted by the Monte Carlo packages. These packages also predict a faster time evolution of the muon-induced signal than observed in the data. Nevertheless, the time until the signal from the muon-induced events is completely collected was correctly predicted by the Monte Carlos. MINIDEX is foreseen to run for many years at different depths and with different target materials. The results will help to understand muon-induced neutron production in high-Z materials and the consequences for low-background physics.