News & Events

HEPL / KIPAC Seminar

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Andrzej Drukier

Biotraces, Inc. Fairfax, VA

Dark Matter Detectors using Nanoscale Explosives

Abstract: This talk discusses nanoscale explosives as a novel type of dark matter detector and study the ignition properties. When a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle WIMP from the Galactic Halo elastically scatters off of a nucleus in the detector, the small amount of energy deposited can trigger an explosion. For specificity, this paper focuses on a type of two-component explosive known as a nanothermite, consisting of a metal and an oxide in close proximity. When the two components interact they undergo a rapid exothermic reaction — an explosion.

As a specific example, we consider metal nanoparticles of 5 nm radius embedded in an oxide. One cell contains more than a few million nanoparticles, and a large number of cells add up to a total of 1 kg detector mass. A WIMP interacts with a metal nucleus of the nanoparticles, depositing enough energy to initiate a reaction at the interface between the two layers. When one nanoparticle explodes it initiates a chain reaction throughout the cell.

A number of possible thermite materials are studied. Excellent background rejection can be achieved because of the nanoscale granularity of the detector: whereas a WIMP will cause a single cell to explode, backgrounds will instead set off multiple cells. If the detector operates at room temperature, we find that WIMPs with masses above 100 GeV (or for some materials above 1 TeV) could be detected; they deposit enough energy (>10 keV) to cause an explosion. When operating cryogenically at liquid nitrogen or liquid helium temperatures, the nano explosive WIMP detector can detect energy deposits as low as 0.5 keV, making the nano explosive detector more sensitive to very light <10 GeV WIMPs, better than other dark matter detectors

Time: 4:00 – 5:00pm

Location: Physics/Astrophysics Bldg., Kistler Conference Rooms 102/103 (Map)

(Light refreshments available 4:00pm; Presentation begis 4:15pm)

Open to All