Title

DRIFT-III: Engineering a Prototype Dark Matter Detector

Authors

Jennifer Fox

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

DRIFT (Directional Recoil Identification From Tracks) is a dark matter collaboration that uses Multiwire Proportional Counters (MWPCs) to detect minute changes in current due to subatomic events. The goal of this collaboration is to directly detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), a leading theoretical dark matter particle candidate. WIMPs interact with baryonic, or normal, light-emitting matter gravitationally as well as through the weak nuclear force. WIMP collisions with atomic nuclei are theoretically possible but extremely rare. Unfortunately, engineering constraints on the current DRIFT-IId prevent a volume larger than 1 m3 to be constructed. This summer I worked with Professor Dan Snowden-Ifft and Professor Jean-Luc Gavreau to construct a prototype of a new MWPC that could be implemented in a larger DRIFT detection volume. We effectively completed a mini version of the new MWPC configuration. We tested it at various voltages between 300 V and 900 V, later introducing a radioactive source to ensure that it could properly detect subatomic particles (alpha particles). Due to the success of this MWPC, more will be built throughout the next school year. Eventually it will be scaled up and installed in a DRIFT-III detector 30 times the volume of the current DRIFT-IId.

Advisor

Dan Snowden-Ifft

Department

physics

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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