There is a large and convincing body of astrophysical evidence that most of the matter in the universe is dark (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1006.2483.pdf). Understanding the nature of dark matter is one of the most important problems in modern physics.
The SABRE experiment is a dark matter particle detector that is being constructed in collaboration with researchers in Australia, Europe, and the United States. To reduce the external backgrounds associated with cosmic rays, it will be housed ~1 km underground in a gold mine near Stawell in Victoria, Australia. To reduce the internal backgrounds from naturally occurring radioactive material, the detector will be fabricated from the purest NaI(Tl) scintillator material ever made. The experiment will search for an annually modulating signal due to the Earth's motion around the sun. To avoid confusion between seasonal background effects and a true dark matter signal, SABRE will operate twin detectors in the northern and southern hemisphere. A positive detection from SABRE would be an extremely important physics discovery, on par with the detection of the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, or neutrino oscillations.
The background of neutrons, gamma rays, and cosmic rays at the SABRE site is a key limit on the SABRE physics reach. This project will measure these backgrounds with various detectors at the SABRE site, and use a simulation model to interpret these measurements. It will also search for correlations of the background with environmental factors and any annual modulations of the background rate.
There is a broad scope to this work, and it could work as a postgraduate research project or several undergraduate research projects.
Students should be willing to travel to the SABRE mine site.
Students should be willing to attend phone meetings with collaborators in Australia and overseas.