Scientific Colloquium
May 8, 2024,  3:00 P.M.
Building 3, Goett Auditorium

"The Quest to Find the Invisible Matter of the Universe"

Probing the nature of the Universe's invisible matter (the so-called dark matter) has arguably risen to the forefront of physics research today. Many experiments around the globe are in the race for its discovery, utilizing different approaches (collider production, indirect detection and direct detection) and detection technologies. Among these technologies is the dual-phase liquid xenon time projection chamber (LXe-TPC), which has emerged as a leading technology for underground-based experiments invested in direct dark matter searches. LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), a US flagship experiment, is the largest and most sensitive LXe-TPC dark matter experiment to ever be constructed. It is currently being operated at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota, with the primary goal to look for dark matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), a highly motivated dark matter candidate. LZ's active TPC region, consisting of 7 tons of LXe, is instrumented with photomultiplier tubes to see light signals from particle interactions, and is surrounded by two veto detectors to reduce backgrounds and enhance its discovery potential. My talk will give an overview of the different detection techniques in dark matter searches with an emphasis on that used by the LZ experiment. I will discuss the world-leading WIMP search results from LZ's first science run as well as its other results extending the search to non-standard (WIMP) dark matter candidates. I will conclude by discussing LZ's outlook and the future of the direct detection field beyond LZ, with an emphasis on XLZD, a proposed next-generation LXe-TPC observatory for dark matter and neutrino physics.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Alvine Kamaha is an assistant professor of Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she holds the inaugural Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences. She is also the 2024 recipient of the Edward A. Bouchet award from the American Physical Society (APS). She was a co-convener of the topical group "Supporting Capabilities" for the "Underground Facilities and Infrastructure Frontier" during the recent decadal SNOWMASS process. Prof Kamaha's research interest is in experimental astroparticle physics, specifically in searching for the missing matter of the universe, the so-called dark matter. Currently, she mainly works on the LUX-ZEPLIN experiment, a US flagship dark matter experiment, while setting up a test facility at UCLA for various R&D projects on detector background mitigations and detector technology calibrations for current and future dark matter experiments.

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