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Search for light Dark Matter with a Spherical Proportional Counter

Project description

New generation experiments searching for light dark matter candidates

Unravelling the nature of dark matter, which makes up around 85 % of the total mass of the universe, is one of the most compelling quests in physics. Physicists have long searched for hypothesised dark matter particles called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). State-of-the-art dark matter detectors do not have the required sensitivity to detect such lightweight dark matter candidates. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the DarkSphere project will leverage experimental techniques to test the WIMP hypothesis (with light particle masses ranging between 0.05 and 10 GeV) with unprecedented sensitivity. Researchers will use the spherical proportional counter, a type of gaseous ionisation detector device that counts particles of ionising radiation with a low-energy threshold down to a single electron.


The aim of DarkSphere is to shine a light on the nature of Dark Matter (DM), with the NEWS-G direct detection experiment that focuses in the low mass region. Through the novel detector concept of Spherical Proportional Counters, the experiment will provide for the first time access to the 0.1 - 10 GeV mass region, which is highly motivated by the Higgs boson discovery and the non-observation of supersymmetry at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The innovative detector concept offers a number of advantages, including: very low energy detection threshold, background rejection capabilities, and construction of large volume using solely radiopure materials. Furthermore, in contrast to other direct detection experiments, using a choice of light target gases, including hydrogen, helium, and neon, allows the NEWS-G experiment to kinematically match the target to the DM candidate mass, and thus maximise its sensitivity for each mass in the region of interest. Within the project a number of advances will be achieved in terms of detector optimisation and simulation through original measurements, background measurement methods, physics analysis with novel classification and statistical inference methods, and advances in DM phenomenology. Beyond use in fundamental physics research, the detector concepts relevant for DarkSphere have potential for industrial and medical applications, which are also explored.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
B15 2TT Birmingham
United Kingdom

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West Midlands (England) West Midlands Birmingham
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76