Particle Physics Seminar

"Searching for dark matter-The hunt to find it in the laboratory"

Presented by Ioannis (J.D.) Vergados

Friday, May 31, 2019, 11:00 am — Small Seminar Room, Bldg. 510

There is plenty of evidence at all scales (galaxies, cluster of galaxies, cosmological distances) that most of the energy content of the universe is of unknown nature, i.e, 70% is dark energy and 25% dark matter. Only 5% is made up of matter of known nature, in atoms, in stars, in planets etc, constituents predicted by the standard model. Thus unraveling the nature of the dominant components and, in particular, of dark matter is one of the most important open problems in science. This nature can only be understood by the direct detection of its constituents in the laboratory. This can be achieved, if there exists a week interaction, much stronger than gravity, between the dark matter and ordinary matter. The constituents are supposed to have a mass and are called WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). We have no idea what this mass is, but from the rotational curves we know that the constituents must be non relativistic, regardless of the size of their mass. The experimental techniques for the direct detection crucially depend on the assumed WIMP mass. Historically the first searches assumed WIMP masses of many GeV and, therefore, heavy nuclear targets were favored. Thus the hunt for DM began and evolved into a multi-pronged and interdisciplinary enterprise, combining cosmology and astrophysics, particle and nuclear physics as well as detector technology, which will be reviewed. Since the WIMP energy is in the keV region, the nucleus cannot be excited and only the nuclear recoil can be measured. As a result, unfortunately, the signal cannot be easily distinguished from backgrounds. After thirty years of intensive work against formidable backgrounds by a lot of large experimental teams, no dark matter has been found. Impressive limits on the nucleon cross section have, however, been obtained. Extension of these searches to GeV or sub-GeV WIMPs is also been considered using light nuclear targets. It may very w

Hosted by: Milind Diwan

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