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Dark Matter Direct Detection in the DarkSide-20k Experiment

Department of Physics

About the Project

The Centre for Particle Physics at Royal Holloway is offering a PhD opportunity to search for dark matter in the DarkSide-20k experiment.

The nature of dark matter is one of the fundamental questions about the universe today, at the forefront of physics research. Direct detection experiments seek to observe interactions of dark matter particles with atomic nuclei. Detector development in this area has pushed the technology of particle detection to low energies and very low background levels.

DarkSide-20k is an international collaboration engaged in a staged program to develop the next generation of liquid argon (LAr) detectors for low-background searches.

The 50 tonne DarkSide-20k detector is under construction at the LNGS laboratory, in Gran Sasso, Italy, with the first physics run planned to start in 2023. DarkSide-20k will have two orders of magnitude increase in the sensitivity over current searches for dark matter particles with masses at the TeV scale.

This studentship project is to work on development of the outer detector photosensors, electronics, data acquisition system and simulation. As experiments become increasingly sensitive in search of dark matter, backgrounds need to be understood at levels never before achieved. To do so, world-leading photosensor technology and readout are being developed that will allow the identification of signal and background events whilst also minimising their own radioactive footprint, a key requirement to minimise backgrounds to the dark matter search.

The PhD student will contribute to the efforts of the photoelectronics and veto detector working groups, characterising and calibrating the photosensor hardware, building and commissioning the veto detector and developing analysis tools to analyse data. The goal is to develop a dark matter search analysis with flexibility to search for signals including exotic dark matter candidates beyond the WIMP dark matter hypothesis. 

For students particularly interested in instrumentation development, there is the also opportunity of joint studentship with TRIUMF Laboratory (Vancouver, CA) to focus on next-generation silicon photosensor development.  

Funding Notes

The funding normally comes with the possibility for Long Term Attachment funds to work at the experiment site for up to 18 months during the PhD.

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