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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Direct Search for Dark Matter by Using Dual-phase Liquid Xenon Detector and Measurement of Nuclear Recoils in Liquid Argon

  • Author(s): Meng, Yixiong
  • Advisor(s): Gelmini, Graciela
  • et al.
Abstract

Cosmological and Astrophysical observations provide compelling evidences for the existence of dark matter in the universe. One class of dark matter candidates, the Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), has been predicted in many particle physics theories. Direct detection experiments using dual- phase liquid noble element detectors report the best sensitivities to the detection of the dark matter particles. The next generation direct detection experiments using the same technology, are actively been built and expected to give a factor of 100 improvement on the current best sensitivity.

This thesis discusses the measurement of nuclear recoils in a dual-phase liquid argon detector using a bunched neutron beam generated by linear accelerator facility at accelerator laboratory in Notre Dame University. Nuclear recoils of en- ergy ranging from 10.8 keVnr to 49.9 keVnr are measured under different drift field configurations. An electric field quenching on nuclear recoils in liquid argon is dis- covered and quantified for the first time. This quenching effect is also found to be drift field and recoil energy dependent. By varying the drift field amplitude from 100 V/cm to 1000 V/cm for each nuclear recoil energy, the quenching effect are measured as a function of nuclear recoil energy and drift field amplitude. Results from this measurement is used in the direct dark matter detection experiment to calculate the final sensitivity of direct dark matter search.

A separate work on the optimization of detector design for the XENON1T detector is also discussed in detail. Finite element simulation tool is used to design and optimize the electric field in XENON1T time projection chamber. As part of the design of XENON1T detector, electron transparency across metal grids of different geometrical configurations are also studied.

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