Drs. Tim Wendler and David Woodward from our group at Penn State went to the American Physical Society (APS) April Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, to talk about Project 8 and LUX/LZ!
Tim gave a concise introduction of the Project 8 Neutrino Mass Measurement Experiment, and an overview of the work he has been doing in developing the next phase of the experiment, in which we increase the detector size by orders of magnitude, in order to demonstrate that our experiment works in large scales and can achieve the necessary the stats to measure the neutrino mass. His work focus on the central question for determining the future of Project 8: can we detect the radiation emitted by a single electron in a large volume? He has been running simulations of the electron fields, antenna array designs and electronics to answer that!
David presented a talk in the APS mini-symposium on “Low Radioactivity Background Techniques in Underground Experiments”. He gave an overview of the external backgrounds found in the Davis Laboratory at SURF (Sanford Underground Research Facility), home of the LUX and LZ dark matter experiments. His talk focused on the muon-induced neutron backgrounds, which feature a model of the Earth surface above the underground lab (rather than a flat surface approximation), leading to unprecedented detailed simulations of the muon flux; and on gammas emitted by the surrounding cavern walls. For this latter one, the excellent shielding the detector has (a 300-tonnes water tank!) actually presents a problem in determining the expected background in the detector – we get too few interactions to actually build a model! To solve this, he created a new technique of calculating the flux in increasingly smaller concentric shells, then starting a new simulations with the flux at each of these shells, thus amplifying the number of particles reaching the detector, and thus obtaining a good model of the gamma background in the detector! His results show that these external background are sub-dominant by orders of magnitude and will not hinder the search for dark matter!