LUX draws a blank on dark matter

12 August 2016

The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment located at Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota, US, has released its latest results in the search for dark matter. Following the completion of its final 20 month-long run, during which the detector amassed a data set that is four times larger than before, no signal was found and the results were consistent with background expectations.

LUX is based on a 370 kg liquid-xenon dual-phase time-projection chamber that offers a high sensitivity to spin-independent nuclear-recoil interactions. It entered operation in 2013 to search directly for WIMPs in addition to other dark-matter candidates. The experiment’s latest results, which were presented on 21 July at the 2016 International Dark Matter conference in Sheffield, UK, carve out previously un-probed parameter space and exclude spin-independent WIMPS at the level of 0.22 zeptobarns. The collaboration plans further analyses of other dark-matter candidates, including axions.

Researchers are looking ahead to the next-generation LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) detector, also located at SURF, which is scheduled to start operations by the end of the decade. With an active mass of seven tonnes, LZ will be sensitive to WIMP masses ranging from a few GeV to hundreds of TeV, and will therefore probe even deeper into dark-matter parameter space.

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