High Energy Physics Seminar
The WIMP may not be dead, but its decline has opened a number of new frontiers in the search for dark matter, spanning a vast range of scales. This is problematic for traditional direct detection searches: decades of development have produced detectors that are extremely sensitive to weak-scale dark matter, but nearly blind to other important targets. The growing scope of our search thus calls for new experimental ideas. I will describe a new conceptual framework for the treatment of dark matter--electron interaction rates in which the capabilities of detectors are determined by their dielectric properties. This language makes it possible to leverage the complicated condensed matter physics of detector materials to probe dark matter at masses several orders of magnitude below existing bounds. This novel formalism is already enabling new approaches to the detection of light dark matter, and I will share recent results based on the application of this method to superconducting detectors, including new constraints on sub-MeV dark matter. The future prospects promise to transform direct detection from a surgical instrument at the weak scale to a robust tool in the search for new physics across the scales.
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