Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.
“Scientists this week heard their first pops in an experiment that searches for signs of dark matter in the form of tiny bubbles.
This is an image of the first particle interactions seen in the COUPP-60 detector, located half a mile underground at SNOLAB in Ontario, Canada. Photo: SNOLAB
Scientists will need further analysis to discern whether dark matter caused any of the COUPP-60 experiment’s first bubbles.
‘Our goal is to make the most sensitive detector to see signals of particles that we don’t understand,’ said Hugh Lippincott, a postdoc with the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory who has spent much of the past several months leading the installation of the one-of-a-kind detector in a laboratory a mile and a half underground.
COUPP-60 is a dark-matter experiment funded by DOE’s Office of Science. Fermilab managed the assembly and installation of the experiment’s detector.
The COUPP-60 detector is a jar filled with purified water and CF3I—an ingredient found in fire extinguishers. The liquid in the detector is kept at a temperature and pressure slightly above the boiling point, but it requires an extra bit of energy to actually form a bubble. When a passing particle enters the detector and disturbs an atom in the clear liquid, it provides that energy.
Dark-matter particles, which scientists think rarely interact with other matter, should form individual bubbles in the COUPP-60 tank.
‘The events are so rare, we’re looking for a couple of events per year,’ Lippincott said.”
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