Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation announced support for a suite of upcoming experiments to search for dark matter that will be many times more sensitive than those currently deployed.
These so-called Generation 2 Dark Matter Experiments include the LUX-Zeplin experiment, an international collaboration formed in 2012, managed by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and to be located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota.
With the announcement, the DOE and NSF officially endorsed LZ and two other dark matter experiments.
The LZ experiment was first proposed two years ago to search for and advance our understanding of dark matter, a mysterious substance that makes up roughly 27 percent of the universe.
The experiment will build on the current dark matter experiment at SURF called the Large Underground Xenon detector, or LUX. Dark matter, so named because it doesn’t emit or absorb light, leaves clues about its presence via gravity: it affects the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters and distorts light emitted from background objects in a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
Physicists believe dark matter could be made of difficult-to-detect particles called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles or WIMPs, which usually pass through ordinary matter without leaving a trace.
More information about all three next generation experiments can be found here.