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Ionization Collection in Detectors of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search


Determining the composition of dark matter is at the forefront of modern scientific research. There is compelling evidence for the existence of vast quantities of dark matter throughout the universe, however it has so-far eluded all direct detection efforts and its identity remains a mystery. Weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are a favored dark matter candidate and have been the primary focus of direct detection for several decades. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) has developed the Z-dependent Ionization and Phonon (ZIP) detector to search for such particles. Typically made from germanium, these detectors are capable of distinguishing between electromagnetic background and a putative WIMP signal through the simultaneous measurement of ionization and phonons produced by scattering events. CDMS has operated several arrays of these detectors at the Soudan Underground Laboratory (Soudan, MN, USA) resulting in many competitive (often world-leading) WIMP exclusion limits.

This dissertation focuses on ionization collection in these detectors under the sub-Kelvin, low electric field, and high crystal purity conditions unique to CDMS. The design and performance of a fully cryogenic HEMT-based amplifier capable of achieving the SuperCDMS SNOLAB ionization energy resolution goal of 100 eVee is presented. The experimental apparatus which has been used to record electron and hole properties under CDMS conditions is described. Measurements of charge transport, trapping, and impact ionization as a function of electric field in two CDMS detectors are shown, and the ionization collection efficiency is determined. The data is used to predict the error in the nuclear recoil energy scale under both CDMSlite and iZIP operating modes. A two species, two state model is developed to describe how ionization collection and space charge generation in CDMS detectors are controlled by the presence of ``overcharged'' $D^-$ donor and $A^+$ acceptor impurity states. The thermal stability of these states is exclusive to sub-Kelvin operation, explaining why ionization collection in CDMS detectors differs from similar semiconductor detectors operating at higher temperature. This work represents a solid foundation for the understanding ionization collection in CDMS detectors.

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