Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Crystal bells stay silent as physicists look for dark matter

26.02.2008
U.S. experiment retakes the lead in competitive race

Scientists of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment today announced that they have regained the lead in the worldwide race to find the particles that make up dark matter. The CDMS experiment, conducted a half-mile underground in a mine in Soudan, Minn., again sets the world’s best constraints on the properties of dark matter candidates.

“With our new result we are leapfrogging the competition,” said Blas Cabrera of Stanford University, co-spokesperson of the CDMS experiment, for which the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory hosts the project management. “We have achieved the world’s most stringent limits on how often dark matter particles interact with ordinary matter and how heavy they are, in particular in the theoretically favored mass range of more than 40 times the proton mass. Our experiment is now sensitive enough to hear WIMPs even if they ring the ‘bells’ of our crystal germanium detector only twice a year. So far, we have heard nothing.”

WIMPs, or weakly interacting massive particles, are leading candidates for the building blocks of dark matter, which accounts for 85 percent of the entire mass of the universe. Hundreds of billions of WIMPs may have passed through your body as you read these sentences.

“We were disappointed about not seeing WIMPs this time. But the absence of background in our sample shows the power of our detectors as we enter into very interesting territory,” said CDMS co-spokesperson Bernard Sadoulet, of the University of California, Berkeley.

If they exist, WIMPs might interact with ordinary matter at rates similar to those of low-energy neutrinos, elusive subatomic particles discovered in 1956. But to account for all the dark matter in the universe and the gravitational pull it produces, WIMPs must have masses about a billion times larger than those of neutrinos. The CDMS collaboration found that if WIMPs have 100 times the mass of protons (about 100 GeV/c2) they collide with one kilogram of germanium less than a few times per year; otherwise, the CDMS experiment would have detected them.

“The nature of dark matter is one of the mysteries in particle physics and cosmology,” said Dr. Dennis Kovar, Acting Associate Director for High Energy Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. “Congratulations to the CDMS collaboration for improved sensitivity and a new limit in the search for dark matter.”

The CDMS experiment is located in the Soudan Underground Laboratory, shielded from cosmic rays and other particles that could mimic the signals expected from dark matter particles. Scientists operate the ultrasensitive CDMS detectors under clean-room conditions at a temperature of about 40 millikelvin, close to absolute zero. Physicists expect that WIMPs, if they exist, travel right through ordinary matter, rarely leaving a trace. If WIMPs crossed the CDMS detector, occasionally one of the WIMPs would hit a germanium nucleus. Like a hammer hitting a bell, the collision would create vibrations of the detector’s crystal grid, which scientists could detect. Not having observed such signals, the CDMS experiment set limits on the properties of WIMPs.

“Observations made with telescopes have repeatedly shown that dark matter exists. It is the stuff that holds together all cosmic structures, including our own Milky Way. The observation of WIMPs would finally reveal the underlying nature of this dark matter, which plays such a crucial role in the formation of galaxies and the evolution of our universe,” said Joseph Dehmer, director of the Division of Physics for the National Science Foundation.

The discovery of WIMPs would require extensions to the theoretical framework known as the Standard Model of particles and their forces. On Feb. 22, the CDMS collaboration presented its result to the scientific community at the Eighth UCLA Dark Matter and Dark Energy symposium.

“This is a fantastic result,” said UCLA professor David Cline, organizer of the conference.

The CDMS result tests the viability of new theoretical concepts that have been proposed.

“Our results constrain theoretical models such as supersymmetry and models based on extra dimensions of space-time, which predict the existence of WIMPs,” said CDMS project manager Dan Bauer, of DOE’s Fermilab. “For WIMP masses expected from these theories, we are again the most sensitive in the world, retaking the lead from the Xenon 10 experiment at the Italian Gran Sasso laboratory. We will gain another factor of three in sensitivity by continuing to take more data with our detector in the Soudan laboratory until the end of 2008.”

A new phase of the CDMS experiment with 25 kilograms of germanium is planned for the SNOLAB facility in Canada.

“The 25-kilogram experiment has clear discovery potential,” said Fermilab Director Pier Oddone. “It covers a lot of the territory predicted by supersymmetric theories.”

The CDMS collaboration includes more than 50 scientists from 16 institutions and receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, foreign funding agencies in Canada and Switzerland, and from member institutions.

Fermilab is a DOE Office of Science national laboratory operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the nation.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to more than 1,700 universities and institutions.

Additional information:

Background information:
http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/cdms_background2008.html
CDMS home page:
http://cdms.berkeley.edu/index.html
Institutions participating in CDMS:
Brown University
California Institute of Technology
Case Western Reserve University
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Queens University
Santa Clara University
Stanford University
Syracuse University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Colorado Denver
University of Florida
University of Minnesota
University of Zurich

Kurt Riesselmann | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fnal.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astrophysicists measure precise rotation pattern of sun-like stars for the first time
21.09.2018 | NYU Abu Dhabi

nachricht Halfway mark for NOEMA, the super-telescope under construction
20.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

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: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Astrophysicists measure precise rotation pattern of sun-like stars for the first time

21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Brought to light – chromobodies reveal changes in endogenous protein concentration in living cells

21.09.2018 | Life Sciences

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>