Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sub-GeV Dark Matter Searches and Electric Field Studies for the LUX and LZ Experiments
by Tvrzníková, Lucie, Ph.D., Yale University, 2019, 372; 13806485
Abstract (Summary)

Abundant evidence from cosmological and astrophysical observations suggests that the Standard Model does not describe 84% of the matter in our universe. The nature of this dark matter (DM) remains a mystery since it has so far eluded detection in the laboratory. To that end, the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment was built to directly observe the interaction of DM with xenon target nuclei. LUX acquired data from April 2013 to May 2016 at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, which led to publications of many world-leading exclusion limits that probe much of the unexplored DM parameter space.

This manuscript describes two novel direct detection methods that used the first LUX dataset to place limits on sub-GeV DM. The Bremsstrahlung and Migdal effects consider electron recoils that accompany the standard DM-nucleus scattering, thereby extending the reach of the LUX detector to lower DM masses. The spin-independent DM-nucleon scattering was constrained for four different classes of mediators for DM particles with masses of 0.4-5 GeV/c2.

The detector conditions changed significantly before its final 332 live-days of data acquisition. The electric fields varied in a non-trivial non-symmetric manner, which triggered a need for a fully 3D model of the electric fields inside the LUX detector. The successful modeling of these electric fields, described herein, enabled a thorough understanding of the detector throughout its scientific program and strengthened its sensitivity to DM.

The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment, the successor to LUX, is a next-generation xenon detector soon to start searching for DM. However, increasingly large noble liquid detectors like LZ are facing challenges with applications of high voltage (HV). The Xenon Breakdown Apparatus (XeBrA) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was built to characterize the HV behavior of liquid xenon and liquid argon. Results from XeBrA will serve not only to improve our understanding of the physical processes involved in the breakdown but also to inform the future of noble liquid detector engineering.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McKinsey, Daniel N.
Commitee: Natarajan, Priyamvada, Lamoreaux, Steve, Urry, Meg, Dahl, Eric
School: Yale University
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Physics
Keywords: Breakdown, Dark matter, Electric field modeling, High voltage, LUX, Xenon
Publication Number: 13806485
ISBN: 9781088315163
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