Indexed on: 13 Nov '03Published on: 13 Nov '03Published in: Physical review letters
We report a new measurement of the neutron decay lifetime by the absolute counting of in-beam neutrons and their decay protons. Protons were confined in a quasi-Penning trap and counted with a silicon detector. The neutron beam fluence was measured by capture in a thin 6LiF foil detector with known absolute efficiency. The combination of these simultaneous measurements gives the neutron lifetime: tau(n)=(886.8+/-1.2[stat]+/-3.2[syst]) s. The systematic uncertainty is dominated by uncertainties in the mass of the 6LiF deposit and the 6Li(n,t) cross section. This is the most precise measurement of the neutron lifetime to date using an in-beam method.