Background Measurement Techniques and Sensitivity Studies for the SNO+ Neutrinoless Double Beta Decay Search
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The control of radioactive backgrounds will be key in the search for neutrinoless double beta decay at the SNO+ experiment. Several aspects of the SNO+ back-grounds have been studied. The SNO+ tellurium purification process may require ultra low background ethanol as a reagent. A low background assay technique for ethanol was developed and used to identify a source of ethanol with measured 238U and 232Th concentrations below 2.8 10^-13 g/g and 10^-14 g/g respectively. It was also determined that at least 99:997% of the ethanol can be removed from the purified tellurium using forced air flow in order to reduce 14C contamination. In addition, a quality-control technique using an oxygen sensor was studied to monitor 222Rn contamination due to air leaking into the SNO+ scintillator during transport. The expected sensitivity of the technique is 0.1mBq/L or better depending on the oxygen sensor used. Finally, the dependence of SNO+ neutrinoless double beta decay sensitivity on internal background levels was studied using Monte Carlo simulation. The half-life limit to neutrinoless double beta decay of 130Te after 3 years of operation was found to be 4.8 1025 years under default conditions.