Carleton-Led Physics Team Reports First Results from Novel Dark Matter Detector

Carleton University Physics Professor Mark Boulay, Canada Research Chair in particle astrophysics and subatomic physics, and his colleagues have released the results of their first dark matter search. The DEAP-3600 detector, operating at the underground SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario since late 2016, is searching for particles of mysterious dark matter that permeate the universe. DEAP-3600 is the largest dark matter detector of its kind in the world, employing a novel technique of using only scintillation light in liquid argon – light generated when a particle interacts with an argon nucleus.

“My colleagues and I are very pleased with the early results from the DEAP-3600 experiment, which demonstrate a new technique using liquid argon for a dark matter particle search,” said Boulay.  “This program will extend our sensitivity to dark matter, with the exciting potential of observing for the first time this dominant component of our universe.”

The initial result, released at the TAUP conference in Sudbury, demonstrates the best-ever rejection of radioactive backgrounds using the new technique, and also the lowest level ever achieved of background radon, one of the most troublesome backgrounds in dark matter searches. Using over 3 tonnes of argon in the search for dark matter, the recent result demonstrates the power of the new technique. A paper detailing the initial results of the project can be found online.

Boulay’s research team uses the DEAP-3600 detector located underground at SNOLAB and a new facility being developed at Carleton to pursue the use of leading-edge materials and the development of new techniques in the search of dark matter.

With this detector, the sensitivity for dark matter can be improved and may enable the discovery of particles that account for most of the matter in our universe, but so far have remained invisible.  DEAP-3600 will continue to collect data at SNOLAB until 2020, when it’s ultimate sensitivity is reached.

About Carleton Research

Carleton is a dynamic, interdisciplinary research-intensive institution with a creative international approach to research that has led to many significant discoveries and works in science and engineering, business, public affairs and the arts. Home to many noted award-winning researchers, Carleton is uniquely committed to discovery, knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Carleton’s location in Ottawa – the nation’s capital – allows unique access for our researchers across many disciplines to such places as Canada’s national labs and museums, Library and Archives Canada, federal government departments and of course, Parliament Hill. Through the building of sustainable communities, we foster new ideas to create a more prosperous future for Canada and the world.

About SNOLAB
SNOLAB is an underground science laboratory specializing in underground science. Located 2 km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine located near Sudbury Ontario Canada, SNOLAB is an expansion of the existing facilities constructed for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) solar neutrino experiment. The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Carleton University, Laurentian University, Queen’s University, University of Alberta and Université de Montréal.

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