Dark Matter Detection with Precision Instrumentation: Nano Seminar Series

Seminar | February 3 | 2-3 p.m. | 390 Hearst Memorial Mining Building

 Prof. Surjeet Rajendran, UC Berkeley, Physics

 Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute

We know that there is five times more dark matter in the universe than the normal (baryonic) matter that we are made out of. But, other than its existence we know very little about its properties.

What is its mass? How does it interact with baryonic matter? One way to identify these properties is to make guesses about what the dark matter could be. We can then build a sensitive instrument that would respond to that kind of dark matter - if the guess is right and the instrument works, we would have succeeded in detecting dark matter. Given our ignorance of the dark sector, it is important to identify generic classes of experimental signatures that can search for a wide variety of dark matter candidates. Since the interactions of the dark matter with baryonic matter are known to be weak, we need precision sensors to search for these weak effects.

In this talk, I will discuss how precision magnetometers such as SQUIDs/SERFs, accelerometers such as atom/optical interferometers and clocks such as optical atomic clocks can be used to search for a wide variety of dark matter candidates. These sensors obtain their precision by harnessing quantum principles and were largely developed to address problems in a variety of commercial/science applications such as the use of SQUID magnetometers to image magnetic fields of the brain, clocks to provide time standards and gravimeters for a variety of defense/mining applications. We can thus leverage the existing investments in these areas to solve a major problem in particle physics - the identity of dark matter.