Strong evidence has been gathered demonstrating that the majority of the mass in the Universe is composed of non-luminous, non-baryonic matter, called Dark Matter.
The search for Dark Matter is one of the major quests in physics. It is invoked to explain gravitational effects in the Universe, such as the motion of stars in galaxies. It is expected to be 5 times more abundant than standard matter, but its interaction with normal matter is extremely weak. The direct detection of Dark Matter is therefore extremely difficult.
Search for Dark Matter will take place at a former gold mine in Stawell, Victoria, to reduce the background from cosmic rays. The aim is to detect recoiling nuclei that have interacted with the hypothetical Dark Matter surrounding the Earth. This will be the first experiment in the Southern hemisphere to search for Dark Matter (SABRE).
The Nuclear Physics Department at the ANU is involved in the preparation of the experiment, including practical aspects such as characterisation of the background from natural radioactivity. Natural concentrations of radioactivity in high-purity detectors must be extremely low. The student will participate in the chemical extraction, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) measurement and analysis of potential detector materials.
AMS will be used to determine the ultra-low radioactivity levels. AMS is a single atom counting technique that measures extraordinarily low concentrations of rare (radioactive) isotopes of natural or anthropogenic origin. It will involve the use of ANU's 15 million Volt particle accelerator as well as a complementary accelerator at ANSTO in Sydney.