Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Departmental Colloquium - Understanding detector microphysics to optimize searches for dark matter


Alan Robinson,

Monday April 17th, 2017
11:30 a.m. Theatre B


A beam of unknown massive particles, dark matter, passes through the earth and through many experiments attempting to measure it interactions.  Two figures of merit define the sensitivity of these experiments to a possible interaction: the minimum detectable interaction rate (background), and the minimum detectable interaction energy (threshold).

My studies of the thresholds and principle backgrounds of PICO bubble chambers and SuperCDMS cryogenic detectors have relied on understanding the principles of fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, electron microscopy, physical chemistry, solid state band structures, and x-ray crystallography.  These studies have led to the ability to design ton-scale PICO detectors, and to the development of a calibration program and a sensitivity model for SuperCDMS SNOLAB.  Towards the future, as SuperCDMS and other dark matter and neutrino detector technologies push towards single-quantum sensitivities, new models for understanding detector thresholds and backgrounds will be needed.