New hybrid material detects dark matter particles

Scientists have created material for the manufacture of shells for detectors that detect dark matter particles.

Scientists of the Russian Chemical Technical University named after D. I. Mendeleeva, SINP MSU, JINR and NRU BelGU have developed a hybrid material based on plastic and the rare earth metal gadolinium, which can be used to make shells for detectors that will search for dark matter.

The new material solves the main problem of searching for dark energy – signals from other non-dark energy events that need to be eliminated during work.

It also protects against high-energy neutrons from entering the detector, which are released during the fission of uranium or other radioactive elements that enter the detector material as impurities.

The new low-cost, low-background material with a large amount of hydrogen consists of atoms that capture foreign background neutrons. Another component of the material is the rare earth metal gadolinium, which captures thermal neutrons more efficiently than other non-radioactive elements.

In the international project DarkSide 20K, which is being implemented in the underground laboratory of Gran Sasso in Italy, a 20-ton chamber with liquid argon is being built, which can potentially capture dark matter particles. This chamber needs a shell that absorbs background neutrons so that they do not affect the interaction of dark matter particles with argon nuclei. In addition, the cladding material itself must be ultra-low-background in terms of radioactive elements. This is our part of the project: we are working on the creation of structural elements from such a material.

Igor Avetisov, Head of the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Crystals at the Russian Chemical Technology University
During the experiment, the authors produced a small amount of new material and showed that it was enough to make a housing for a dark matter detector.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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