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Title: Dark matter searches with the LUX and LZ experiments
Author: Shaw, S.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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The fundamental nature of our universe is still mostly unknown. Dark matter, known to make up 84% of the mass in the universe, is widely recognised as one of the biggest mysteries in modern science. A promising candidate is the Weakly Interacting Massive Particle, or WIMP; these enigmatic particles have so far evaded detection by anything other than their gravitational influence, but they are an elegant solution that may still be hiding in unexplored phase space. WIMPs may be detected through elastic nuclear scattering in low-background experiments located in deep underground laboratories. The LUX dark matter experiment operates a time projection chamber with a xenon target, and has been world-leading for 3 years. LUX pioneered calibration techniques that have allowed great improvements in the sensitivity to WIMPs, developed novel signal identification algorithms towards rare-event selection, and demonstrated low energy nuclear recoil efficiency for WIMPs to unprecedented levels for noble gas targets. LUX has set the most-stringent constraints on WIMPs to-date with a minimum sensitivity of 2.2E10-46 cm2 at a WIMP mass of 50 GeV/c2. The LUX experiment has been completed, but the search will be taken up by its successor LUXZEPLIN (LZ), now under construction. Building on the technologies and techniques developed for LUX, LZ will probe theoretically well-motivated regions of unexplored electroweak parameter space to reach a sensitivity at 2E10-48 at 50 GeV/c2, 100 times greater than LUX. Detailed Monte Carlo simulations have been conducted for LZ to inform and finalise design, and develop the background model, against which any potential signal will be evaluated for a first definitive discovery.
Supervisor: Ghag, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available