UK INVOLVEMENT IN DIRECT DARK MATTER SEARCHES

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Future direct dark matter searches will require instruments with improved sensitivity and complementary targets and techniques in order to claim a discovery, and then move to more detailed studies of the particle properties and astrophysical parameters. UK researchers are in an excellent position to participate in the world leading experiments, with significant progress in sensitivity achieved by ZEPLIN-III (liquid xenon target) and EDELWEISS-II (cryogenic germanium), experiments with established UK participation, and with a recent recruitment to the UK bringing a new involvement in DEAP/CLEAN (liquid argon). We anticipate a leading UK role in scale up to a tonne fiducial mass and beyond, probing the majority of the parameter space favoured by the most credible WIMP dark matter models. This proposal focuses on the technical development work necessary to design the EURECA and LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiments, to mitigate technical risks and improving sensitivity. Meeting these goals will also facilitate the positioning of the UK teams for leadership roles in the construction, operation and exploitation of EURECA and LZ.

Planned Impact

The technologies being developed are state-of-the-art in terms of particle detection and identification. The detection of WIMPs requires technology which can also detect fast neutrons and even neutrinos. These are of interest to many security-related issues and some developments in this direction to look for neutron production and coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering could follow on. The subject of dark matter scores highly in the public interest. So far the public have followed avidly all the evidence and efforts to make detections, in spite of no credible evidence for discovery yet, but a convincing positive announcement would re-invigorate the interest and doubtless attract young people into following science as a career. For the national funding agencies, a detection would allow a new planning regime with clear and more targeted goals for future studies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have conducted R&D for the next generation of dark matter experiments.
Exploitation Route This research allows dark matter experimentation, with application to other rare event searches. However, it also is useful for trace radioactivity measurements, across a broad range of industry including food, pharmaceuticals, and electronics.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Electronics

 
Description We have used low background screening techniques for commercial and industrial applications.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Other
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Chair of STFC's Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Title Trace radioactivity analyses with ICP-MS 
Description Development of methods for trace uranium and thorium radioactivity analyses with ICP-MS using microwave digestion 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have been able to assay materials to levels of less than 10 ppt (g/g) for uranium-238 and thorium-232 
 
Description LUX-ZEPLIN 
Organisation Lyngby-Taarbæk Municipality
PI Contribution I am the co-lead of the LZ 'Background and Screening' Work Package (WBS1.10), one of 11 in the international project, and lead for the equivalent Work Package (WP4) in the UK project. These contain tasks related to the radio-assay of all materials for construction of the instrument to meet low-background requirements unprecedented in the field to-date, and characterization of the experiments radiation field from materials and the environment to provide accurate input for the background model. These are crucial tasks necessary for LZ to achieve its science reach in terms of Dark Matter sensitivity, and to assess any potential signal in case of discovery. In addition to overall leadership and management of these Work Packages, UCL is specifically responsible for delivery of approximately half of all project radio-assays together with radio-content characterization and modeling. This is performed with state-of-the-art technologies and infrastructure I have been developing in the UK since 2012.
Collaborator Contribution All other activities in this international collaboration, from design through to construction.
Impact Construction of the LZ dark matter experiment
Start Year 2012
 
Description Event Horizon Cafe Scientifique 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact 30 people attended a Cafe Scientifique event organised by UCL undergraduate students where I talked about the search for Dark Matter in our Universe. Impact that has arisen since includes requests for more information on how to conduct further studies or apply for PhD and postgraduate positions in the field of Dark Matter and particle physics in general.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/events/197495787252785/
 
Description Article in Cosmos magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Featured in a Cosmos Magazine article about the search for Dark Matter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://cosmosmagazine.com/physical-sciences/ghost-traps-hunt-dark-matter
 
Description BBC Today programme feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio feature discussing UK particle physics and involvement in 'Beyond Standard Model' experiments including Dark Matter searches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03kpnjl
 
Description Forbes magazine article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 5000 views of this article discussing Dark Matter experiments with UK involvement, where I discuss the implications of new results. This article led to changes in opinion of the readers as documented by the comments on the website, and further enquiries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridaineparnell/2013/11/07/why-the-lux-results-matter-to-dark-matter-and...
 
Description IOP Physics World article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article highlighting the selection of the next generation of experiments in the search for Dark Matter, including LZ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/jul/15/dark-matter-searches-get-us-government-approval
 
Description IOP Physics World article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article in Physics World magazine about underground science including Dark Matter searches. This article highlighted activities at the UK's Boulby Underground Laboratory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/2015/may/07/subterranean-science
 
Description Light and Dark TV series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a major BBC production broadcast on TV in two-parts, hosted by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. It featured a section on Dark Matter where I discussed underground experimental techniques.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jrxhv
 
Description Naked Scientists Radio and Podcast feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio and Podcast feature by the Naked Scientists discussing Dark Matter searches. This feature led to several further media enquiries and questions from the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/naked-scientists/show/20150602/
 
Description New Scientist Public Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 270 members of the general public attended a Particle Physics Experts Masterclass organised by New Scientist. I was one of the 5 experts, presenting Dark Matter including the LZ experiment, and I was a member of the panel for a Q&A session. There was significant interest during the ticketed event (£150 per person), and outcomes that have arisen since include contact from schools and students regarding Dark Matter for their school projects, and contact from the media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/instant-expert-mysteries-of-particle-physics-tickets-19713709235?aff=n...
 
Description Public Lecture at Second Home 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Approximately 70 people that work at or operate from Second Home, London, attended a talk about Dark Matter that focused on technologies. Second Home houses numerous technology firms and businesses and this talk led to several questions about potential socioeconomic impact of particle physics and Dark Matter experiments, and potential areas for collaborative research and spin-offs. It has also led to arrangement of a trip to Boulby Underground Laboratory in 2016, where I will host 10 artists from across the UK on an underground tour of the science facility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.facebook.com/events/1498288067129210/
 
Description Radio 5 Live feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dark Matter feature on Radio 5 live, highlighting UK research. This feature led to enquiries from the general public and other media outlets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b043wvt9
 
Description Radio feature on Newsdrive 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on BBC Newsdrive discussing UK involvement in international Dark Matter search experiments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zdylq
 
Description School Visit (Newham Collegiate College, London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Particle physics seminar focussing on searched for beyond the standard model physics, particularly for dark matter signatures. Approximately 40 students attended, and there was considerable interest afterwards with questions, discussion, and follow up emails to me.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017