There is a large and convincing body of astrophysical evidence that most of the matter in the universe is dark. Understanding the nature of dark matter is one of the most important problems in modern physics.
The search for dark matter has spurred fantastic improvements to particle detector technology over the past 20 years, generating improvements to their sensitivity to dark matter a rate faster than Moore's law. However, this progress cannot continue forever -- the sensitivity of future dark matter detectors will be stymied by a background of neutrinos, which cannot be shielded; a limit known as the 'neutrino floor'.
The CYGNUS collaboration is an international group of scientists who are developing a detector technology that is able to infer the direction of dark matter particle interactions. The directional information allows CYGNUS to overcome the neutrino floor, since the most abundant source of low energy neutrinos is the sun, while the incident dark matter flux comes from the direction of the constellation Cygnus. Presently CYGNUS is conducting pilot studies into directional detector technology, with the aim to build a large modular detector, with one module to be eventually located in Australia's new underground physics laboratory at Stawell, Victoria. The directional detector technology will allow searches for dark matter below the neutrino floor and, once dark matter is discovered, will allow dark matter astronomy.
This experimental project will build and characterise the properties of a prototype gas time projection chamber, in order to facilitate Australia's R&D as part of the CYGNUS collaboration.
Experience with other experimental projects is useful.
Engineering students with experience in electronics, signal processing, or coding are encouraged to become involved.