On the trail of dark matter with LUX-ZEPLIN

Aug 16, 2017

Based on a press release from the SLAC Office of Communications

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, including several KIPAC scientists, are on a quest to solve one of physics’ biggest mysteries: What exactly is dark matter—the invisible substance that accounts for 85 percent of all the matter in the universe but can’t be seen even with our most advanced scientific instruments?

One of the most physically well-motivated ideas about its composition is that dark matter is made of ghostly particles that rarely bump into their surroundings, mostly passing right through them unperturbed. This is why billions of dark matter particles might zip right through our bodies every second without us even noticing. Leading candidates for dark matter particles of this form are WIMPs, or "weakly interacting massive particles."

Now SLAC is helping to build and test one of the biggest and most sensitive detectors ever designed to catch a WIMP—the LUX-ZEPLIN or LZ detector (which had an earlier generation version called just LUX, discussed in this earlier KIPAC blogpost, by Christina Ignarra). The following video explains how it works.

Members of SLAC’s LZ team are part of the international LZ collaboration.