Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Waiting for dark matter in a mine, with the world's best detectors

A half-mile down in an old iron ore mine in Minnesota, incredibly sensitive detectors have been waiting for a particle of dark matter, an invisible substance that may form the skeleton of galaxies, to make itself known.

A consortium of research scientists, including Stanford physicist Blas Cabrera, anticipated the detection of a predicted-but-undiscovered dark particle known as a weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP. The hope was that several WIMPs would travel through space and a half-mile of Earth to plunk themselves into the nuclei of germanium atoms in the detectors, each collision creating a vibration and a tiny puff of heat that would signal the WIMP's existence.

WIMPs are leading candidates for dark matter, the unseen stuff that accounts for 85 percent of the entire mass of the universe. Billions of WIMPs may be passing unnoticed through the bodies of humans every second.

The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search was somewhat like waiting for a phone call from the early moments of the universe, when dark matter was formed. But in this case, the phone never rang. The detectors in the clean room at the bottom of the mine, cooled within a whisper of absolute zero, recorded no WIMPS. Scientists call that a "null result," but it is still valuable, Cabrera said.

By building the world's most sensitive and accurate WIMP detectors—a feat comparable to building the best telescope to search the skies—the researchers can now relay the word to other scientists that detectors must be built bigger if they are to have a fighting chance of finding the elusive WIMP.

So the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, which started out in an underground tunnel at Stanford before moving to the Soudan mine in Minnesota, will next move to a deeper site at Snolab in Canada. The detectors will grow from 3.7 kilos of germanium to 25 kilos.

With a larger detector, as with a wider telescope, "You will be able to see things you've never been able to see before," Cabrera said.

Institutions participating in the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, in addition to Stanford, are Case Western Reserve University, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Princeton University, Queens University, Santa Clara University, Syracuse University, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Barbara, University of Colorado at Denver, University of Florida and University of Minnesota.

Blas Cabrera | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>