Scientists heard their first pops this week in an experiment that searches for signs of dark matter in the form of tiny bubbles.
Stereoscopic view of the first COUPP-60 bubble at SNOLAB. Visible on the sides are the strings of piezoelectric sensors used to discriminate between alpha radioactivity and nuclear recoils like those expected from dark matter interactions.
COUPP-60 is a dark-matter experiment funded by DOE’s Office of Science. Fermilab managed the assembly and installation of the experiment’s detector. Leading the experiment is Juan Collar, associate professor in physics at the University of Chicago.
“Operation of COUPP-60 at SNOLAB is the culmination of a decade of work at the University of Chicago and Fermilab,” Collar said. “This device has the potential to become the most sensitive dark matter detector in the world, for both modes of interaction expected from Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.”
The COUPP-60 detector is a jar filled with 60 kilograms of purified water and CF3I—an ingredient found in fire extinguishers. The liquid in the detector is kept at a temperature and pressure slightly above the boiling point, but it requires an extra bit of energy to actually form a bubble. When a passing particle enters the detector and disturbs an atom in the clear liquid, it provides that energy.
Dark-matter particles, which scientists think rarely interact with other matter, should form individual bubbles in the COUPP-60 tank.
“The events are so rare, we’re looking for a couple of events per year,” Lippincott said.
Other, more common and interactive particles such as neutrons are more likely to leave a trail of multiple bubbles as they pass through.
Over the next few months, scientists will analyze the bubbles that form in their detector to test how well COUPP-60 is working and to determine whether they see signs of dark matter. One of the advantages of the detector is that it can be filled with a different liquid, if scientists decide they would like to alter their techniques.
“We are already working on a 500-kilogram chamber, to be installed in the same site starting in 2015,” Collar said.
The COUPP-60 detector is the latest addition to a suite of dark-matter experiments running at SNOLAB. Scientists run dark-matter experiments underground to shield them from a distracting background of other particles that constantly shower Earth from space. Dark-matter particles can move through the mile and a half of rock under which the laboratory is buried, whereas most other particles cannot.
Scientists further shield the COUPP-60 detector from neutrons and other particles by submersing it in 7,000 gallons of water.
Scientists first proposed the existence of dark matter in the 1930s, when they discovered that visible matter could not account for the rotational velocities of galaxies. Other evidence, such as gravitational lensing that distorts our view of faraway stars and our inability to explain how other galaxies hold together if not for the mass of dark matter, have improved scientists’ case. Astrophysicists think dark matter accounts for about a quarter of the matter and energy in the universe. But no one has conclusively observed dark-matter particles.
The COUPP (Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics) experiment includes scientists, technicians and students from UChicago, Indiana University South Bend, Northwestern University, University of Valencia, Virginia Tech, Fermilab, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and SNOLAB.
Steve Koppes | Newswise
Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor
11.12.2018 | Science China Press
Physicists edge closer to controlling chemical reactions
11.12.2018 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2018 | Information Technology