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Physics & Astronomy Colloquium – Fall 2020 – Roberts
September 16 @ 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm
Speaker: Amy Roberts (University of Colorado Denver)
Title: The Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search Detectors: Pushing Lower Thresholds in Search of an Answer
Abstract: A wealth of cosmological measurements suggest that non-luminous “dark matter” makes up approximately 80% of all matter. So far, the effects of dark matter have only been observed gravitationally. But direct-detection experiments like the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS) are designed to be sensitive to a hypothesized – but not yet observed – dark matter particle.
This talk will give an overview of the SuperCDMS direct-detection dark matter search, which uses cryogenic semiconductor detectors instrumented with phonon sensors, with an emphasis on designing detectors customized for low-mass dark matter reach. As detector sensitivity steadily improves but yields no confirmed dark matter signal, interest has increased in looking for lighter-mass dark matter candidates. Searching for lighter-mass particles means lowering detector thresholds, and recent prototype detectors have acheived eV-scale thresholds. I will explain how the SuperCDMS detectors operate at low-thresholds and discuss some of the light-dark-matter signals we are pursuing in the low-energy regime.
Speaker Biography: Amy Roberts joined CU Denver as an Assistant Professor of Physics in 2017. She grew up splitting her time between airplane hangars, the Michigan forest, and watching Robocop with her brother. She spent her early professional life as an experimental nuclear physicist, improving neutron-time-of-flight detectors for beam-based studies of the 76Ge nucleus as a graduate student and then validating ultra-cold neutron simulations at Los Alamos National Lab. She joined the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search in 2014 and has since been involved in the data acquisition, data quality, and analysis framework for the upcoming SNOLAB installation. Her work focuses on understanding detector response to energy deposition and on enabling reproducible and accessible research.