Carmen Carmona elected to LZ Executive Board

Prof. Carmona was elected as one of the four voting members of the LZ Executive Board, a small committee charged with providing leadership and guidance for the LZ experiment (which has more than 250 members!). The responsibilities of the Executive Board include guiding the technical strategy of the collaboration and the experiment, and advising the spokespersons on scientific and financial matters.



Dr. David Woodward and Corey Herr are at SLAC, getting the LZ dark matter experiment ready to go!  They were working on a test of the thermosyphon system that will be used to cool down the detector and liquify the xenon inside it.

(SLAC is the former “Stanford Linear Accelerator Center”, a national lab located in the bay area in California. It’s part of the LZ Collaboration, and it’s where a lot of the commissioning of the LZ detector is taking place prior to assembly underground in South Dakota!)


Prof. Luiz de Viveiros in his lab in Davey 012. [Image: Penn State]
“Luiz de Viveiros, assistant professor of physics, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science to receive funding for his research as part of the DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The DOE program, in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early years of their careers, when many scientists do their most formative work. Awardees are chosen based on peer review by outside scientific experts and receive five years of research funding.”

Read the full news item here:

David elected the new LUX Analysis Coordinator

Dr. David Woodward

Congratulations to Dr. David Woodward in being elected the new Analysis Coordinator for the LUX Dark Matter Experiment!

LUX has completed its science run and was disassembled in 2017.  Although its primary mission has been completed (by setting world-leading constraints on Dark Matter cross-section at the time), it has left a rich dataset still being actively mined for new physics.

With the end of operations, the Analysis Coordinator is one of the most important roles in the experiment, as the experiment is now entirely focused on analysis.  Starting on May 2018, he will responsible for leading all analysis efforts, including the organization of meetings, assignment and management of analysis tasks, hosting analysis workshops, reporting results to the collaboration, leading the writing and publication of papers, and ensuring the achievement of the collaboration’s scientific goals!

Project 8 and LUX/LZ at the APS Meeting April 2018

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!

Dr. Tim Wendler presenting a talk about Project 8 and his work in simulations of the electron signal and antenna array design.

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!

Dr. David Woodward presenting a talk about his work modeling the external backgrounds in the LUX and LZ dark matter detectors.

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!

Project 8 Collaboration Meeting at PNNL

Project 8 Collaboration Meeting at Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), March 2018

Penn State’s Dr. Tim Wendler is at the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) this week, attending the Collaboration Meeting of Project 8, a experiment that aims to measure the neutrino mass using novel cyclotron radiation detection techniques. He is working with our colleagues in Project 8 in understanding our detector and data, and planning the next stages of the experiment!

New Lab Ready – Davey 019

Dr. David Woodward and Prof. Carmen Carmona in the new lab for the LUX/LZ dark matter experiments at Penn State, Davey 019.

Our group has been assigned two labs at Penn State, and the second one is finally ready! Right across our first lab in Davey 012, the new lab in Davey 019 has a much larger footprint (>90 m²), and features a cleanroom (~15 m², with fume hood), 1-tonne crane, and a pit for deploying a cryostat cooled with a thermosyphon cryogenic system. The first lab will be dedicated to the development of electronics and the Project 8 neutrino mass experiment, while the second lab will be dedicated to cryogenics and other hardware for the LZ dark matter detection experiment.

New Postdoc: David Woodward

Dr. David Woodward

Dr. David Woodward has joined the Dark Matter and Neutrino Mass group at Penn State on December 1st, 2017.  David was already a member of the LUX/LZ collaboration, working on his Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield in the Vitaly Kudryavtsev group.  He has been working mainly in backgrounds simulations and data analysis code development, and his Ph.D. thesis title is “Simulations of cosmic muons and background radiations for muon tomography and underground experiments”.  David will continue working on the LUX and LZ dark matter experiments here at Penn State, and will lead the design, construction and operation of test systems for the commissioning of LZ. Welcome to Penn State, David!

Project 8 Collaboration Meeting

Today was the last day of the Project 8 Collaboration Meeting and Workshop, hosted by Prof. Luiz de Viveiros at Penn State.  The collaboration meeting brought >20 physicists from several institutions in the Project 8 collaboration for a week-long event here at Penn State, in which we discussed the status of the experiment and plans for the future.  We hope that all our guests enjoyed their time at Penn State!

Project 8 Collaboration Meeting at Penn State, Fall 2017