People: H. Araujo, F. Froborg, G. Jones, B. Lopez-Paredes, N. Marangou, I. Olcina, T. Sumner, R. Taylor, A. Tomas, A. Vacheret, with GridPP team D. Colling, A. Richards, D. Bauer, S. Fayer
Searching for the mysterious dark matter with liquid xenon detectors
Direct dark matter search experiments look for extremely rare and very weak collisions expected to occur between the cold dark matter particles that are believed to permeate our galaxy and the nuclei of atoms in the active medium of a radiation detector. These hypothetical elementary particles could be Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs, weighing as little as a few protons or as much as several heavy nuclei. Their nature is not yet known, and the Standard Model of Particle Physics provides no viable candidates to explain the dark matter problem.
The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment
LZ is a next-generation physics experiment which will be located one mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Lead, South Dakota, USA). Construction is expected to be completed in 2019/20. The LZ detector will employ a 7-tonne liquid xenon target to search for the rare interactions of these elusive particles with ordinary atoms in the detector medium. Its sensitivity will cover most of the available parameter space before backgrounds from rare neutrino interactions set it.
The international LZ collaboration is composed of over 250 scientists and engineers in 38 institutes in the US, UK, Portugal, South Korea and Russia. Imperial is a key contributor to this flagship experiment, leading the 9 UK institutes participating in the international project. Our team is working on major hardware deliverables in the area of photon detection and liquid xenon testing, and we co-lead the Xenon Detector work package at the core of the experiment. We host one of the two Data Centres for LZ which process and store the Monte Carlo simulations and, later on, the real data from the experiment.