The world’s largest and most sensitive dark matter detector, was born. It has been successfully operated and verified to be effective.
It is called LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) and is designed to solve one of the biggest mysteries of the universe – to find direct evidence of the existence of dark matter.
Dark matter is a substance that does not emit or absorb light or any form of radiation, but accounts for 85% of the mass of the universe.
Now, after more than 1,000 days of sensitivity tests, the large device, nearly 1.5 kilometers underground, is finally up and running.
The world’s largest dark matter detector
The name LUX-ZEPLIN comes from the merger of two previous dark matter detection experiments.
–LUX (Large Underground Xenon) and ZEPLIN (ZonEd Proportional scintillation in LIquid Noble gases).
To avoid interference from solar and cosmic radiation, this detector is located in an underground laboratory converted from a mine in South Dakota, USA, where more than a dozen experiments are conducted, including the nature of neutrinos, geothermal energy, particle physics experiments, etc.
The dark matter experiment, in short, is a search for dark matter by using the interaction between 7 tons of active liquid xenon and dark matter. According to engineers, one of the reasons for choosing xenon is its very high liquid density, about three kilograms per liter, which is denser than aluminum.
The dark matter detector has many layers, starting with a large vat of liquid xenon in the center. Next to it are multiple photomultiplier tubes to detect light signals that might indicate the presence of dark matter. Scientists hope that when the dark matter hits the xenon core, it will produce a little flash of light. And keep the temperature at minus 100 degrees Celsius.
In addition to this, the detector needs to be composed of the necessary materials that are extremely pure in terms of radioactivity. For this reason, the team analyzed more than 1200 materials and chose the purest ones to build the LZ and characterize the residual noise from natural cosmic radiation, according to the director.
Now the device has finally been built. During the trial run at the end of December last year, 60 “real time data” were collected, and although the results do not provide evidence of a dark matter signal, they show that all aspects of the detector are working well.
The experiment consists of 250 scientists and engineers from 35 institutions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal and South Korea.