The Underground Dark Substance Search Experience Reaches the Main Stage

The LUX-ZEPLIN time projection room, the main detector of the experiment, was depicted in a clean room at the Sanford Underground Research Institute before being folded and delivered underground. Credit: Matthew Kapust / Sanford Underground Research Institute

LUX-ZEPLIN groups prevail COVID-19 obstacles to reach a major stage on the starting path.

Crews working on the largest U.S. experiment, designed for direct detection of dark matter, completed a major phase last month and set out to launch their scenes after experiencing some delays due to global pandemic events.

U.S. Department of Energy officials officially signed a project completion for LUX-ZEPLIN or LZ on Sept. 21: an ultrasound-sensitive test interaction mass that will use 10 metric tons of liquid xenon to hunt signals interacting with WIMPs or so-called theoretically dark matter particles. The DOE’s project completion phase is called Critical Decision 4 or CD-4.

LZ Central Detector

During installation, the LZ’s central detector, pictured here, is housed inside a large reservoir at Sanford Laboratory, level 4850. LZ will look for theoretically dark matter particles known as WIMP. Credit: Nick Hubbard / Sanford Laboratory

Dark matter makes up about 85 percent of all matter in the universe. We know it’s there because of the gravitational force on normal matter, but we still don’t know what it is. The LZ is designed to detect two flashes of light that occur when a WIMP interacts with a xenon core. atom.

Simon Fiorucci, LZ’s operations manager and a physicist at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Laboratory), said: “We are completing the commissioning of the detector – the test phase – and we will look at LZ data next year.” Organization for LZ cooperation.

The LZ was installed at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Laboratory) in South Dakota, about a mile below the ground. Depth, background particles that can stifle the WIMP interaction signals that scientists are looking for, provide a natural protection against a constant rain of cosmic rays on the Earth’s surface, which is a “sound” source. LZ is also made of individually selected and tested components that are low in naturally occurring radiation and can also complicate the search.

Mike Headley, CEO of Sanford Laboratories, said, “The entire Sanford Lab team congratulates LZ Collaboration on reaching this milestone. The LZ team has been a wonderful partner and we are proud to welcome them to Sanford Laboratories. We look forward to collecting LZ data next year. ”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanford Laboratories was forced to reduce its activities to those considered important only on March 25, and the site began a transition to increased operations on May 6, and Berkeley Laboratory and other LZ partner organizations also reduced coronavirus surgeries. Fiorucci, Sanford Laboratory and LZ project staff said they were happy to be able to continue their work quickly.

LZ Photo Author Pipes

A series of photo-protection tubes designed to detect signals occurring inside the LZ’s liquid xenon tank. Credit: Matt Cabbage / Sanford Laboratory

SLAC noted that xenon cleaning activities at the National Accelerator Laboratory have been temporarily postponed due to COVID-19-related discounts. The purified xenon in the SLAC will be sent to the Sanford Laboratory and converted to liquid xenon for the LZ experiment.

“Despite all these complications, we have made decent progress,” he said. “We’ve been able to keep the workforce at Sanford Laboratory and SLAC and keep things going at at least 80 percent. We returned to nominal speed until June, and since then we have returned to this mode. ”

However, COVID-19 risks persist, and Fiorucci noted that employees continue to follow safety protocols to reduce these risks. At the launch, Fiorucci said Sanford Laboratory had about 15 to 20 LZ employees in two shifts, adding that he expected this level to be maintained by the end of this year.

Now that CD-4 is available, Fiorucci said the appearance of the finish line is exciting.

“We get very little engineering and more science in the mix,” he said. “Definitely exciting and thrilling.” The members of the collaboration noted that they had held this position before: LZ’s predecessor, the LUX experiment, was also installed and operated in the same underground research cave at Sanford Laboratories.

But this time it’s different.

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