Professor Dr. MICHAEL WURM

PRISMA Professorship for Experimental Particle Physics

In April 2014 Michael Wurm was appointed Professor for Experimental Particle Physics (emphasis on Flavor Physics) at the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA, Department of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Sciences of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. His field of research is experimental neutrino physics, in particular the investigation of neutrino oscillations that describe the mutual transitions of the three neutrino flavor states into each other. This surprising effect is regarded as a first sign of physics beyond the standard model of particle physics.

In this context, the new working group is engaged in two international collaborations: The SOX project is a short-baseline oscillation experiment at the BOREXINO detector (Italy) searching for a putative fourth sterile neutrino flavor. The collected data will also allow to derive a precise value for the Weinberg or weak mixing angle at low energies. From 2020, the Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Obseravtory (JUNO, southern China) will perform a precision measurement of reactor antineutrino oscillations that is sensitive to the mass ordering of the neutrinos.

A further research focus is on neutrino astronomy: Both detectors serve as observatories for low-energy neutrinos originating from fusion processes in the interior of the sun and from the core collapse of massive stars in Supernova explosions.

With the installation of a laboratory for the production, purification, and characterization of organic liquids in Mainz, Michael Wurm and his team will contribute to the further development of liquid scintillators that will be used in future neutrino experiments like JUNO.

Michael Wurm, born in 1981 in Landshut, Germany, studied physics at the Technical University in Munich, where he wrote his professional dissertation "Cosmic Background Discrimination for the Rare Neutrino Event Search in BOREXINO and LENA". As a postdoctoral researcher he joined groups at the Technical University in Munich, the University of Hamburg, and the University of Tübingen.

With his research focus on neutrino flavor oscillations and the work on the measurement of the Weinberg angle/weak mixing angle Michael Wurm supports the research aims of research area A "Fundamental Interactions" of the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA.

Scientific career

April 2014
Appointment Professor (tenure track) for experimental particle physics, Cluster of Excellence PRISMA, Department of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

2013 – 2014
Postdoctoral research scientist, group Professor Dr. T. Lachenmaier, Institute of Physics, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany
Scholarship of the Carl Zeiss Foundation   

2011 – 2013
Postdoctoral research scientist, group Prof. Dr. C. Hagner, Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Hamburg, Germany

2009 – 2011
Postdoctoral research scientist, group Professors Feilitzsch/Schönert, Astropartical Physics, TU München, Germany  

2006 – 2009
PhD, TU München, Germany
Titel of dissertation: „Cosmic Background Discrimination for the Rare Neutrino Event Search in BOREXINO and LENA“
PhD Award „Experiment“ 2009 for the best experimental doctoral thesis at Cluster of Excellence „Origins and Structure of the Universe“ (Munich) 

Main teaching and research topics

  • Astroparticle physics
  • Precision measurement of neutrino oscillations
  • Experimental search for sterile neutrinos
  • Neutrino astronomy
  • Detector development in the field of low-energy neutrino physics 


SOX: Short-distance neutrino Oscillations with BoreXino
G. Bellini et al. [Borexino Kollaboration]
JHEP 1308 (2013) 938, arXiv:1304.7721  

Reactor electron antineutrino disappearance in the Double Chooz experiment
Y. Abe et al. [Double-Chooz Kollaboration]
Phys. Rev. D86 (2012) 052008, arXiv:1207.6632  

First evidence of pep solar neutrinos by direct detection in Borexino
G. Bellini et al. [Borexino Kollaboration]
Phys. Rev. Lett. 108 (2012) 051302, arXiv:1110.3230  

The next-generation liquid-scintillator neutrino observatory LENA
M. Wurm et al.
Astropart. Phys. 35 (2012) 685-732, arXiv:1104.5620  

Observation of Geo-Neutrinos
G. Bellini et al. [Borexino Kollaboration]
Phys. Lett. B 687, 299 (2010), arXiv:1003.0284  

Measurement of the solar 8B rate with a liquid-scintillator target and 3 MeV energy threshold in the Borexino detector
G. Bellini et al. [Borexino Kollaboration]
Phys. Rev. D 82, 033006 (2010), arXiv:0808.2868  

Direct Measurement of the Be-7 Solar Neutrino Flux with 192 Days of Borexino Data
C. Arpesella et al. [Borexino Kollaboration]
Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 091302 (2008), arXiv:0805.3843  

Large underground, liquid based detectors for astro-particle physics in Europe: scientific case and prospects
D. Autiero et al.
JCAP 0711, 011 (2007), arXiv:0705.0116  

Detection potential for the diffuse supernova neutrino background in the large liquid- scintilla-tor detector LENA
M. Wurm et al.
Phys. Rev. D 75, 023007 (2007), arXiv:astro-ph/0701305  

Astrophysik mit Neutrinos
L. Oberauer und M. Wurm
Sterne und Weltraum 49N2, 30 und 49N3, 28 (2010) 

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Professor Dr. Michael Wurm
Photo: Stefan F. Sämmer | © JGU
The neutrino is an elementary particle which holds no electrical charge, travels at nearly the speed of light, and passes through ordinary matter with virtually no interaction. As a consequence, it is a valuable messenger from processes on-going in the interior of astrophysical objects that would be otherwise unobservable. However, due to its elusive nature neutrino detection is extremely difficult. Neutrinos come in three types, called flavors: the electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino (corresponding to the charged leptons). Surprisingly, these flavors can convert into each other by means of neutrino oscillations. This process was discovered only recently and is a first indication of physics beyond the extremely successful Standard Model.
Professor Dr. Michael Wurm
Institute of Physics
Experimental Particle and Astroparticle Physics
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Staudinger Weg 7
55128 Mainz
Tel: +49 6131 39-23928

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