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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Detectability of axion dark matter with phonon polaritons and magnons


Collective excitations in condensed matter systems, such as phonons and magnons, have recently been proposed as novel detection channels for light dark matter. We show that excitation of (i) optical phonon polaritons in polar materials in an O(1 T) magnetic field (via the axion-photon coupling), and (ii) gapped magnons in magnetically ordered materials (via the axion wind coupling to the electron spin), can cover the difficult-to-reach O(1-100) meV mass window of QCD axion dark matter with less than a kilogram-year exposure. Finding materials with a large number of optical phonon or magnon modes that can couple to the axion field is crucial, suggesting a program to search for a range of materials with different resonant energies and excitation selection rules; we outline the rules and discuss a few candidate targets, leaving a more exhaustive search for future work. Ongoing development of single photon, phonon, and magnon detectors will provide the key for experimentally realizing the ideas presented here.

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