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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Kinetic Inductance Detectors for Dark Matter Searches

  • Author(s): Daal, Miguel Demetrius
  • Advisor(s): Sadoulet, Bernard
  • et al.

Decades of astrophysical observations suggest that 23% of the mass energy of the universe is dark. Meanwhile, particle physics theories favor the existence of a stable and weakly interacting particle, which has yet to be detected. These realities combine to formulate a very well motivated particle dark matter candidate, which was produced in the early universe and still lingers in abundance today. The expectation of a small weak interaction cross-section enables the instrumentation of experiments designed to discover the nature of the dark matter which continues to be an overarching question of cosmology. A detector for this dark matter candidate senses energy from occasional collisions between the dark matter and atomic nuclei; the more nuclei in the detector, the greater its sensitivity to dark matter. The detectors of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) measure phonons and charge emanating from recoiling germanium nuclei. Its phonon sensors, though exquisitely sensitive, are relatively complicated to fabricate and deploy. Responding to the scientific imperative to increase dark matter sensitivity, we look for a simpler phonon sensor technology. Kinetic inductance based phonon sensors (KIPS) are superconducting thin film microwave frequency resonant circuits. Phonon energy impinging on the film alters its surface impedance, which alters the characteristics of the resonance. KIPS can be made with relatively large, millimeter sized features which makes them easier to fabricate and reduces variations between detectors. This instrumentation focused thesis shows that KIPS can be used as a simple and sensitive phonon sensor for the CDMS detector. KIPS design aspects, competitiveness to the current transition edge phonon sensors, readout considerations and suggestions on how to instrument them in future dark matter experiments will be presented. The broader applicability of KIPS in nuclear non-proliferation and other physics investigations is also discussed.

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