Friday, October 17, 2014

Upgrade set for dark-matter detector

The XENON1T water tank

By Gemma Lavender

A vast upgrade to the XENON dark-matter experiment at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy is set to provide a significant increase in sensitivity by being able to better spot cosmic rays masquerading as dark-matter particles. Costing US$11m and expected to start taking data in 2015, XENON1T will contain one tonne of xenon to hunt for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) – a leading dark-matter contender.
The XENON detector contains 100 kg of xenon and has provided the world's best limits on the collisional cross-sections between WIMPs and xenon atoms within the detector. But despite the laboratory being situated deep underground to block out most other particles, stray neutrons produced by the decay of cosmic-ray muons can still enter the detector and produce "false positives". Because the signal from the WIMPs, if they exist, will be weak, these false positives could obscure the real signal.

In a conceptual design report published earlier this year, the XENON team has laid out the design of its new Cerenkov detector, half of which will be funded by the US. To eliminate unwanted neutrons and improve sensitivity, XENON1T will be .....
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Cable Installation in the Cryogenic Pipe

The XENON1T detector sits in the center of a large water tank. All the signal and high voltage cables for the photosensors in the time projection chamber are guided by a pipe that goes from outside where the computers are located—through the tank to the detector.

More than 900 cables, each 10 meter long, had to be inserted into a 10 centimeter diameter pipe. Before the installation the cables were prepared at the University of Zurich.
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