Also known as the phantom particle or chameleon particle, the neutrino is an elementary particle of matter, very numerous in the universe but incredibly difficult to detect. It is a fundamental particle within the electron family that does not possess any type of electric charge.


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What is a neutrino?

Subatomic fundamental particles that make up the universe and have a neutral charge. They have mass although it is not known exactly which one is and in addition, it is very similar to the electron.

Definition of neutrino

Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles that make up the universe and at the same time, are the least understood particles. They are similar to electron we know regularly, with one crucial difference being that neutrinos do not have any kind of electrical charge. Since neutrinos are electrically neutral, they are not affected by electromagnetic forces acting on electrons. Neutrinos are affected only by a “weak” subatomic force with a much shorter range than electromagnetism and are therefore capable of crossing great distances in matter without suffering any kind of affectation.


What we know today from science is that most of the neutrinos that float was born about 15 billion years ago, shortly after the universe was born. Since then, the universe has continuously expanded and cooled, and neutrinos have continued.

The neutrino was first postulated in December 1930 by Wolfgang Pauli to explain the energy spectrum of beta disintegrations, the decomposition of a neutron into a proton and an electron. Pauli theorized that an undetected particle was carrying the observed difference between the energy and angular momentum of the initial and final particles. Because of its “ghostly” properties, the first experimental detection of neutrinos had to wait 25 years after it was first discussed. In 1956, Clyde Cowan, Frederick Reines, F. B. Harrison, H. W. Kruse and A. D. McGuire published the article “Free Neutrino Detection: A Confirmation” which was rewarded with the 1995 Nobel Prize.


The main characteristics of neutrinos are as follows:

What are they for?

The neutrino is an elementary particle which means that it cannot be subdivided into other particles. This type of particle is an essential part of all the blocks and everything that exists in the universe.


There are three types of neutrinos: electronic neutrinos ( ne ), muonic neutrino ( nm ) and tauonic neutrino ( nt ) plus their respective antiparticles. They have the ability to pass from one family of neutrinos to another through a process known as neutrino oscillation. The oscillation that occurs in neutrinos directly implies that they have a non-zero mass.

Neutrino sources

The main sources of neutrinos are:


Detectors based on radioactive processes

In 1967 Raymond Davis was able to find a neutrino detection system when he observed that chloro-37 could absorb a neutrino to become argon-37.

Detectors based on the Cherenkov effect

They were based on the collision of neutrinos with electrons contained in an aquatic medium. These detectors are based on the fact that the neutrino, when it hits an electron, passes part of its moment, giving it a speed higher than that of light in the same aqueous medium. There is a characteristic light emission, known as Cherenkov radiation, captured by the photomultipliers that cover the walls of the container.

Neutrino oscillations

The phenomenon of neutrino oscillations is related to the masses, because they allow neutrinos to pass from one to another along their path. Oscillation experiments allow us to know many of the properties of neutrino masses, but oscillation does not keep information about their value.


Neutrinos are one of the essential ingredients of the universe, and they have played a very important role in helping scientists understand some of the most fundamental questions in physics. They are important for understanding the type of processes that occur under the sun, and they are also an important building block for nature’s master plan.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

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