Search for tri-nucleon decays of 76Ge in GERDA

Eur Phys J C Part Fields. 2023;83(9):778. doi: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-023-11862-8. Epub 2023 Sep 4.


We search for tri-nucleon decays of 76Ge in the dataset from the GERmanium Detector Array (GERDA) experiment. Decays that populate excited levels of the daughter nucleus above the threshold for particle emission lead to disintegration and are not considered. The ppp-, ppn-, and pnn-decays lead to 73Cu, 73Zn, and 73Ga nuclei, respectively. These nuclei are unstable and eventually proceed by the beta decay of 73Ga to 73Ge (stable). We search for the 73Ga decay exploiting the fact that it dominantly populates the 66.7 keV 73mGa state with half-life of 0.5 s. The nnn-decays of 76Ge that proceed via 73mGe are also included in our analysis. We find no signal candidate and place a limit on the sum of the decay widths of the inclusive tri-nucleon decays that corresponds to a lower lifetime limit of 1.2×1026 yr (90% credible interval). This result improves previous limits for tri-nucleon decays by one to three orders of magnitude.