Measurement of the rate of muon capture on the deuteron
The goal of the MuSun experiment is to measure the rate lambda d of nuclear muon capture on the deuteron (mu + d rightarrow nu mu + n + n) with a precision of 1.5%. From this high precision measurement, MuSun will determine the sole unknown low-energy constant involved in modern, QCD-based, effective field theory calculations of weak nuclear reactions and provide unique constraints on electro-weak astrophysical processes of fundamental importance, whose rates have never been measured directly. These include pp fusion, which is the primary energy source in the sun and the main sequence stars, and the nu d reaction, which provided convincing evidence for solar neutrino oscillations at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. The two best measurements of Lambda d were performed over twenty years ago at the Paul Scherrer Institute and Vienna. The two experimental results agree but with large error bars on their measurements. Recent theoretical advances predict Lambda d = 399 Hz and Lambda d = 389 Hz, both with a relative uncertainty of only 1%. The uncertainties are low yet they clearly disagree with each other. The MuSun result will improve the experimental knowledge by a factor of 5 and help clarify the current uncertainties in the theoretical prediction. This dissertation describes the experimental design and setup of MuSun, an analysis of the data taken during the 2011 experimental run and approaches with which to tackle systematic effects that interfere with the measurement of the muon capture rate.