Dark matter, an invisible substance that makes up approximately 80% of the matter in the universe, has long puzzled scientists. While its existence is inferred through the effects of its gravity, detecting dark matter has proven to be a challenging task. Despite numerous experiments and observations, dark matter continues to elude direct detection.

Advancements in Quantum Technology

A team of researchers from Lancaster University, the University of Oxford, and Royal Holloway, University of London is utilizing the latest advancements in quantum technology to develop highly sensitive dark matter detectors. By harnessing quantum technologies at ultra-low temperatures, the researchers aim to build detectors capable of directly observing dark matter in the laboratory.

Particle physics theory posits two primary candidates for dark matter: new particles with incredibly weak interactions and axions, which are extremely light wave-like particles. The team is pursuing experiments to search for both types of dark matter candidates, each requiring specialized detection methods.

Ultra-Sensitive Detectors

The Quantum Enhanced Superfluid Technologies for Dark Matter and Cosmology (QUEST-DMC) team is focused on developing detectors specifically designed to search for dark matter particles with masses ranging from 0.01 to a few hydrogen atoms. These detectors, made of superfluid helium-3 and equipped with superconducting quantum amplifiers, aim to achieve world-leading sensitivity to detect collisions with dark matter candidates.

For the potential detection of axions, which are billion times lighter than a hydrogen atom, the Quantum Sensors for the Hidden Sector (QSHS) team is developing a new class of quantum amplifiers. These amplifiers are crucial for detecting the electrical signal that results from axions decaying in a magnetic field, a signature indicative of axion presence.

Interactive Science Exhibition

The researchers have curated a public exhibit titled “A Quantum View of the Invisible Universe,” currently showcased at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition. Through hands-on exhibits and demonstrations, visitors have the opportunity to engage with the concept of dark matter. From observing the behavior of galaxies to creating their own parametric amplifier, attendees are immersed in the world of cutting-edge scientific exploration.

The quest for dark matter represents a significant scientific endeavor that has the potential to unravel one of the universe’s greatest mysteries. By pushing the boundaries of quantum technology and exploring novel detection methods, researchers are inching closer to shedding light on the enigmatic nature of dark matter. Through collaboration, innovation, and perseverance, the scientific community continues to pave the way towards a deeper understanding of the cosmos.


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