Novel strategies to fully exploit direct detection and LHC dark matter searches

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Dark matter is a mysterious form of matter that is not visible by eye but which accounts for about 85% of the matter in the Universe. After decades of experimental effort, we have reached the point where most of the best-motivated candidates are within reach of current or upcoming experiments. It seems likely that we are on the threshold of a major discovery that will revolutionise our understanding of dark matter.

Dark matter consists of an entirely new type of subatomic particle that we know nothing about. The existence of dark matter can be inferred from its gravitational effects on the motion of celestial objects. This is an old technique that is reminiscent of the approach used by Le Verrier in the 1800s to successfully predict the existence and position of Neptune in order to explain irregularities in the orbit of Uranus. Unfortunately the gravitational effects do not provide us with any information that we would normally use to characterise a new particle. My research is focussed on finding answers to basic questions about this new particle such as: How heavy is it? Does it feel any of the fundamental forces of nature? How does it fit into the rest of our picture of particle physics?

I work closely with experimental colleagues to suggest novel searches and new techniques to interpret the data from their experiments. It is crucial to combine results from multiple experiments since a convincing detection of dark matter is likely to require a positive detection in several different experiments. I will use results from two specially designed experiments to answer these questions. Dark matter can be detected with experiments deep underground that search for signs of the rare collision between a dark matter particle and a xenon nucleus, or can be produced directly in collisions of protons at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The ultimate aim of my research is to ensure that we maximise the amount of information gained from these experiments so that we can pin down the properties of the dark matter particle.

What I find so exciting about this research area is that it not only poses a huge question - what are the properties of most of the matter in the Universe? - but that we are fortunate to live in a time when we have the experimental capability to resolve it.

My research is frontier science, connecting physics at the smallest subatomic scales to the workings of the whole Universe. The detection of dark matter would revolutionise particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Atomic and Molecular form factors for dark matter 
Description Data files and Mathematica notebooks used to calculate the dark matter-electron scattering form factor. The results are summarise in 'Fuelling the search for light dark matter-electron scattering' by Louis Hamaide and Christopher McCabe, arXiv:2110.02985 (submitted to Physical Review) 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Allows dark matter scattering with molecules to be analysed for the first time. 
URL https://github.com/mccabech/AtMolDM
 
Title SHMpp calculation 
Description Public script to calculate the velocity distribution required for analysis of dark matter experiments 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Code accompanies our highly cited paper, Refinement of the standard halo model for dark matter searches in light of the Gaia Sausage, Phys.Rev.D 99 (2019) 2, 023012, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.99.023012 
URL https://github.com/mccabech/SHMpp
 
Description Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2018, the meeting will be held in London and I will be one of the organisers. In 2019, the meeting was held in Paris.
Collaborator Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2016, the meeting was held in Paris. In 2017, the meeting was held just outside Amsterdam.
Impact The paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04793.pdf resulted from collaboration. This is currently undergoing peer review with JCAP.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network 
Organisation Laboratoire de Physique
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2018, the meeting will be held in London and I will be one of the organisers. In 2019, the meeting was held in Paris.
Collaborator Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2016, the meeting was held in Paris. In 2017, the meeting was held just outside Amsterdam.
Impact The paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04793.pdf resulted from collaboration. This is currently undergoing peer review with JCAP.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network 
Organisation National Institute for Subatomic Physics Nikhef
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2018, the meeting will be held in London and I will be one of the organisers. In 2019, the meeting was held in Paris.
Collaborator Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2016, the meeting was held in Paris. In 2017, the meeting was held just outside Amsterdam.
Impact The paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04793.pdf resulted from collaboration. This is currently undergoing peer review with JCAP.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network 
Organisation Stockholm University
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2018, the meeting will be held in London and I will be one of the organisers. In 2019, the meeting was held in Paris.
Collaborator Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2016, the meeting was held in Paris. In 2017, the meeting was held just outside Amsterdam.
Impact The paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04793.pdf resulted from collaboration. This is currently undergoing peer review with JCAP.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network 
Organisation University of Amsterdam
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2018, the meeting will be held in London and I will be one of the organisers. In 2019, the meeting was held in Paris.
Collaborator Contribution The aim of the Amsterdam - Paris - Stockholm - London astroparticle physics network is to develop bonds between leading physicists working in astroparticle physics from around Europe. One meeting is held each year and the aim is to spur collaboration for future projects. The location of the meeting rotates between the four cities. In 2016, the meeting was held in Paris. In 2017, the meeting was held just outside Amsterdam.
Impact The paper https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04793.pdf resulted from collaboration. This is currently undergoing peer review with JCAP.
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description DMUK network 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dark Matter UK (DMUK) network brings together UK researchers working on theoretical and experimental aspects of dark matter research. The network encourages collaboration between the members and has two meetings per year. As a result of the network, I have started to meet regularly with experimental physicists from UCL (monthly meetings). We are currently collaborating on a number of projects.
Collaborator Contribution The network has led to significantly more discussions between the Imperial, Edinburgh and Oxford experimental groups with theory groups in London (KCL and Imperial), Oxford, Royal Holloway, Liverpool and Durham. The network holds meetings twice per year. I have been an organiser for the meeting in Bristol (January 2018), Durham (July 2018), King's College London (April 2019) and Manchester (October 2019). We are planning two meetings for 2020.
Impact Bristol meeting: https://indico.cern.ch/event/672881/ Durham meeting: https://conference.ippp.dur.ac.uk/event/692/ KCL meeting: https://indico.fnal.gov/event/19947/timetable/#20190411 Manchester meeting: http://indico.hep.manchester.ac.uk/event/DMUKManchester2019
Start Year 2017
 
Description Migdal Collaboration 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Theorist working together with experimentalists to measure the emission of an electron from a atom that has been struck by a neutron. The experiment will be based at RAL.
Collaborator Contribution Calculating the probability that an electron is emitted from an atom.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Dark Matter Day public lecture at King's College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On 31 October 2017, the world celebrated Dark Matter Day. As part of this celebration, the Department of Physics at King's College London organised a public lecture to describe the research activities of the academics working on dark matter research at King's College London. In particular, the event consisted of three talks by Malcolm Fairbairn, John Ellis and Christopher McCabe. After the talks, we had a 30 minutes Q&A session with the audience. The aim of the event was advertise the importance of the research being carried out at King's College London and the wider UK community in the global search for dark matter. The event was advertised through EventBrite and was open to anyone in the London area. We released 100 tickets to members of the general public and 100 tickets to undergraduates at King's College London. All tickets were taken and approximately 150 people arrived for the event. The talks led to a lively Q&A session with many interesting questions. We also distributed an information booklet produced by the STFC describing UK activities in dark matter research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/nms/depts/physics/newsevents/eventrecords/Dark-Matter-Day-The-Dark-Side-of-KCL...
 
Description IoP outreach talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Outreach talk, IoP Retired Members (London and South East) Particle Physics event, Approx. 50 members in attendance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Nuffield Research Placement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Nuffield Research Placements provide an opportunity for school students to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. In summer 2017, I hosted two school students who were just about to enter their final year of school (having just completed their AS-Levels).

During the project, the students helped me to develop the DMUK website (https://www.dmuk.ac.uk). This website was supposed to have two purposes. The first purpose was as a resource for active researchers in the UK working on dark matter research (eg. with information of upcoming events). The second purpose was as a resource for the public who are interested in the research into dark matter that is being carried out in the UK. It was this second purpose that the students helped me to develop. Specifically, over a four-week period, the students read about the history of dark matter and how it became an established part of modern physics. They also read about the current detection methods, with a focus on experiments that have a leading involvement from UK-based researchers.

The purpose of the placement was to inspire the next generation of exceptional school students to study STEM subjects at University. The students gained a greater appreciation of University life, the topics covered in a physics degree and job opportunities for physics students after University. They also directly contributed to the DMUK website, making the UK's dark matter research accessible to a much larger audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements
 
Description School Visit (Westminster School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk to the Huxley Society at Westminster School on the topic of dark matter. The audience consisted of approximately 30 students aged from 14-18. The talk lasted for approximately 45 minutes and there was approximately 20 minutes of questions. I also distributed an information booklet on dark matter produced by the STFC for Dark Matter Day. The students reported increased interest in physics as a result of the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://twitter.com/wschool/status/935409912817037313
 
Description Talk at the 30th UKSEDS National Student Space Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Approximately 120 people, mostly undergraduate students from around the UK, attended my 25 public outreach talk on my dark matter research. This was followed by a 10 minute Q&A with the audience with people expressing increased interest in the subject, especially the application of space-based experiments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://ukseds.org/nssc2018/programme.php