A New Way to Search for Dark Matter Particles Reveals Hidden Materials Properties

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New research study from Chalmers and ETH Zürich, Switzerland, recommends an appealing method to spot evasive dark matter particles through formerly uncharted atomic reactions happening in the detector product. ​The illustration above is a composite image (optical, x-ray, calculated dark-matter) of mass circulation in the bullet cluster of galaxies.​​​​ Credit: Chandra X-Ray Observatory, NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

New research study from Chalmers, together with ETH Zürich, Switzerland, recommends an appealing method to spot evasive dark matter particles through formerly uncharted atomic reactions happening in the detector product.

The brand-new computations allow theorists to make comprehensive forecasts about the nature and strength of interactions in between dark matter and electrons, which were not formerly possible.

“Our new research into these atomic responses reveals material properties that have until now remained hidden. They could not be investigated using any of the particles available to us today – only dark matter could reveal them,” states Riccardo Catena, Associate Professor at the Department at Physics at Chalmers. 

For every star, galaxy or dust cloud noticeable in area, there exists 5 times more product which is unnoticeable – dark matter. Discovering methods to spot these unidentified particles which form such a considerable part of the Milky Way is for that reason a leading concern in astroparticle physics. In the international look for dark matter, big detectors have actually been developed deep underground to attempt to capture the particles as they bounce off atomic nuclei. 

So far, these mystical particles have actually gotten away detection. According to the Chalmers scientists, a possible description might be that dark matter particles are lighter than protons, and therefore do not trigger the nuclei to recoil – envision a ping pong ball clashing into a bowling ball. An appealing method to conquer this issue might for that reason be to move focus from nuclei to electrons, which are much lighter. 

In their current paper, the scientists explain how dark matter particles can communicate with the electrons in atoms. They recommend that the rate at which dark matter can kick electrons out of atoms depends upon 4 independent atomic reactions – 3 of which were formerly unknown. They have actually computed the manner ins which electrons in argon and xenon atoms, utilized in today’s biggest detectors, need to react to dark matter. 

The outcomes were just recently released in the journal Physical Review Research and carried out within a brand-new partnership with condensed-matter physicist Nicola Spaldin and her group at ETH.  Their forecasts can now be checked in dark matter observatories around the world.

“We tried to remove as many access barriers as possible. The paper is published in a fully open access journal and the scientific code to compute the new atomic response functions is open source, for anyone who wants to take a look ‘under the hood’ of our paper,” states Timon Emken, a postdoctoral scientist in the dark matter group at the Department of Physics at Chalmers.

Reference: “Atomic responses to general dark matter-electron interactions” by Riccardo Catena, Timon Emken, Nicola A. Spaldin and Walter Tarantino, 5 August 2020, Physical Review Research.
DOI: h10.1103/PhysRevResearch.2.033195

More on dark matter

What is the Universe made from? This concern has actually interested mankind for centuries. Still, it stays mostly unanswered, with more than three-quarters of the matter in our Universe thought to be made from particles so evasive that we don’t understand what they are. These particles are called dark matter and do not give off or take in radiation at any observable wavelengths. Detecting the unidentified particles is a leading concern for researchers worldwide. To spot dark matter, the scientists look for uncommon dark matter-electron interactions in low-background deep underground detectors.

Dark Matter Atomic Responses

Credit: Chalmers University of Technology / Physical Review Research

There is incontrovertible proof for the existence of dark matter in our Universe. Evidence is based upon the observation of unforeseen gravitational results in incredibly various physical systems, consisting of galaxies, galaxy clusters, the Cosmic Microwave Background and the massive structure of the Universe. While the European area satellite Planck has actually conclusively revealed that dark matter makes up about 85 percent of all matter in the Universe, its nature stays a secret.

More on the clinical paper

Read the short article Atomic reactions to basic dark matter-electron interactions in Physical Review Research. It is composed by Riccardo Catena and Timon Emken at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and Nicola Spaldin, and Walter Tarantino at the Department of Materials at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.

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