Testing CVC and CKM Unitarity via superallowed nuclear beta decay Conference Paper uri icon


  • Currently, the most restrictive test of the unitarity of the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa (CKM) matrix is anchored by nuclear beta decay. Precise measurements of the f t-values for superallowed beta transitions between analog 0+ states are used to determine GV, the vector coupling constant; this, in turn, yields Vud, the up-down quark-mixing element of the CKM matrix. The determination of a transition's f t-value requires the measurement of three quantities: its Q value, branching ratio and parent half-life. To achieve 0.1% precision on the final result, each of these quantities must be measured to substantially better precision, for which special techniques have had to be developed. A new survey and analysis of world data reveals that there are now fourteen such transitions with f t-values known to ∼ 0.1% precision or better, and that they span a wide range of nuclear masses, from 10C, the lightest parent, to 74Rb, the heaviest. Of particular interest is the recent completion of the first mirror pair of 0+→ 0+ transitions, 38Ca→38mK and 38mK →38Ar, which provides a valuable constraint on the calculated isospin-symmetry-breaking corrections needed to derive GV from the experimental data. As anticipated by the Conserved Vector Current hypothesis, CVC, all fourteen transitions yield consistent values for GV. The value of Vud derived from their average makes it by far the most precisely known element of the CKM matrix, which, when combined with the other top-row elements, Vus and Vub, leads to the most demanding test available of the unitarity of that matrix. Since CKM unitarity is a key pillar of the Electroweak Standard Model, this test is of fundamental significance. Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2015.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hardy, J. C., Towner, I. S., Park, H. I., Iacob, V. E., Chen, L., Horvat, V., Nica, N., & Bencomo, M.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • May 2015