Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Search for elusive dark matter: Looking for traces by studying particles with low masses and interaction rates

Date:
April 11, 2014
Source:
Syracuse University
Summary:
The ongoing search for invisible dark matter is a subject of great interest to physicists. Although dark matter has never been seen directly, it is thought to be six times more prevalent in the universe than normal matter.

This is assistant professor Richard Schnee.
Credit: Syracuse University

Physicist Richard Schnee hopes to find traces of dark matter by studying particles with low masses and interaction rates, some of which have never been probed before.

The ongoing search for invisible dark matter is the subject of a recent article involving physicists from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences.

Research by Richard Schnee, assistant professor of physics, is referenced in Symmetry magazine, a joint publication of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Palo Alto, Calif., and Fermilab in Batavia, Ill.

"Scientists looking for dark matter face a serious challenge, in that no one knows its properties," says Schnee, also principal investigator of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) Physics Lab at SU. "Experiments have seen no signs of dark matter particles that have high masses, but a few experiments have claimed hints of possible interactions from dark matter particles with low masses."

An expert in particle physics, Schnee hopes to find traces of dark matter with an experiment that is more sensitive to such low-mass dark matter particles.

He and his postdoctoral research associate, Raymond Bunker, are part of a multinational team of scientists working on SuperCDMS, an experiment in the University of Minnesota's Soudan Underground Laboratory that is designed to detect dark matter. (In addition to leading part of the experiment's data analysis, Bunker helped edit a paper about the experiment that has been submitted to Physical Review Letters.) Schnee's team is rounded out by two graduate students: Yu Chen and Michael Bowles.

Although dark matter has never been seen directly, it is thought to be six times more prevalent in the universe than normal matter.

"Everywhere we look, objects are accelerating due to gravity, but the acceleration is too large to be caused by only the matter we see," Schnee says. "Even more remarkably, we can infer that this extra dark matter is composed not of normal atoms, but other kinds of particles."

Scientists believe the mystery particles are WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), which travel at hundreds of thousands miles per hour through space and shower Earth on a continuous basis. Unlike normal matter, WIMPs do not absorb or emit light, so they cannot be viewed with a telescope.

"Spotting the occasional WIMP that interacts with something is extremely challenging because particle interactions from natural radioactivity occur at a much higher rate. Detecting a WIMP is like spotting a needle in a haystack," Schnee continues.

Enter CDMS, whose hyper-sensitive detectors can differentiate between rare WIMP interactions and common ones involving radioactivity. The size of a hockey puck, a CDMS detector is made up of a semiconductor crystal of germanium that, when cooled to almost absolute zero, can detect individual particular interactions.

The presence of layers of Earth--like those at the Soudan lab--provide additional shielding from cosmic rays that otherwise would clutter the detector, as it waits for passing dark matter particles.

"We cool our detectors to very low temperatures, so we can detect small energies that are deposited by the collisions of dark matter particles with the germanium," says Schnee. "Other materials, including argon, xenon, and silicon, are also used to detect low-mass dark matter particles. We need to consider as many materials as possible, along with germanium."

SU is one of 14 universities working collaboratively in the search for WIMPs. In the Physics Building, Schnee and his team have constructed an ultra-low radon "clean room," in hopes of reducing the number of interactions from radioactivity that look like WIMPs. (Alpha and beta emissions from radon, a type of radioactive gas, can mimic WIMP interactions in a detector.)

"Unfortunately, radon is all around us, so, even with this 'clean room,' some radon-induced interactions will still mimic WIMPs," Schnee says. "All of us are building different types of detectors and are constantly improving our methods, in hopes of spotting WIMP interactions."

Article in Symmetry: http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/february-2014/cdms-result-covers-new-ground-in-search-for-dark-matter


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Syracuse University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Syracuse University. "Search for elusive dark matter: Looking for traces by studying particles with low masses and interaction rates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140411091945.htm>.
Syracuse University. (2014, April 11). Search for elusive dark matter: Looking for traces by studying particles with low masses and interaction rates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140411091945.htm
Syracuse University. "Search for elusive dark matter: Looking for traces by studying particles with low masses and interaction rates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140411091945.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins