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Superconducting nanowires could shed light on dark matter

28 Mar 2019, 15:22 UTC
Superconducting nanowires could shed light on dark matter
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Superconducting nanowires could be used as both targets and sensors for the direct detection of dark matter, physicists in Israel and the US have shown. Using a prototype nanowire detector, Yonit Hochberg at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues demonstrated the possibility of detecting of dark matter particles with masses below about 1 GeV/c2, while maintaining very low levels of noise. The team says it has already used its prototype to set “meaningful bounds” on interactions between electrons and dark matter.
While dark matter appears to make up about 85% of the matter in the universe, it has not been detected directly – despite the best efforts of physicists working on numerous detectors worldwide. So far, the search has been dominated by efforts to detect weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs) – hypothetical dark-matter particles that could be streaming through Earth in very large numbers. WIMP detectors are designed to look for particles with masses greater than 1 GeV/c2, and are not expected to be sensitive to lower-energy particles.
To extend the search to lower masses, physicists have used several different sensor technologies made from materials including graphene, polar crystals, and superfluid helium. Superconducting nanowires are already used to detect single ...

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