The next-generation dark matter detector LUX-ZEPLIN has successfully recorded its first launch, according to Berkeley Lab researchers. The dark matter detector is located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) beneath the Black Mountains in South Dakota, USA. It is one of three “second-generation” dark matter experiments selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to search for dark matter particles using a two-phase time projection chamber (TPC) containing 7 tons of active liquid xenon.
The LUX (Large Subsurface Xenon) and ZEPLIN (ZonEd Proportional Scintillation in Liquid Noble Gas) – also known as LUX-ZEPLIN – detectors complete the first search for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) with an exposure time of 60 live day. Data from the LUX-ZEPLIN probe was collected over three and a half months after initial operations began in December.
The detectors function by using two nested titanium tanks containing 10 tons of pure liquid xenon. They are also equipped with two photomultiplier tube (PMT) arrays that detect the faint light source that appears in the center of the LZ detector. The titanium canister is housed in a large detector system that traps particles that indicate the presence of dark matter.
“I'm delighted to see this sophisticated detector ready to address the longstanding question of what dark matter is made of. The LZ team has the most ambitious instrument yet,” said Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, director of Berkeley Lab's Physics Division.
After completing the first search, LZ detection operations manager Tomasz Biesiadzinski of Berkeley Lab said the LZ team was to be commended for their contribution to the success of the experiment and their support in the commissioning and operation of the detector.
“As we started acquiring data for detector tuning, calibration and science operations, many subsystems began to come together,” said David Woodward of Penn State University, who coordinated the detector's operations program. He added that while conducting new experiments was challenging, the LZ team efficiently worked through the early stages of the experiment and learned about the detector.