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Theses Doctoral

Low-Energy Electronic Recoils in Liquid Xenon: Search for Annual Modulation with XENON100, Measurement of Charge and Light Yield with neriX, and Measurement of Krypton in Xenon with ATTA

Goetzke, Luke Walker

An ever-growing body of evidence suggests that dark matter exists and is abundant in our universe. Although the direct detection of dark matter has yet to be realized, the intensity of the experimental and theoretical search continues to amplify. The question is no longer whether dark matter exists, but rather what is its fundamental nature and how can it be known. Many large-scale, international experiments are actively searching for one class of dark matter candidates, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). While indirect searches, such as those looking for the creation of dark matter in particle accelerators or for the Standard Model byproducts of dark matter annihilation, are contributing significantly to our understanding of the properties WIMPs may have, direct searches, such as those using cryogenic liquids and solids to look for scattering, have produced the most stringent limits on the properties of WIMPs.
Liquid xenon (LXe) detectors continue to lead the field in the search for the direct detection of WIMPs. The success of experiments using LXe relies upon decades of measurements of the fundamental properties of LXe itself, as well as thorough characterization of the detectors that utilize this amazing element. One frontier of LXe detectors is at low energies. Next-generation LXe detectors, such as XENON1T, require a better understanding of the response of LXe to particle interactions as a function of electric field, as well as more precise measurements of the radioactive backgrounds that contribute to low-energy electronic recoil interactions.
In this thesis, I describe details of efforts to characterize the stability of the XENON100 detector during its primary dark matter search periods in 2010-2012. I examine the electronic recoil data for any indications of periodic behavior, and compare the XENON100 result with a dark matter annual modulation claim by DAMA/LIBRA. I also describe the design, construction, and performance of a dedicated experiment to measure the low-energy properties of LXe, in particular the energy and electric field dependence of the response of LXe to electronic recoils. Finally, I describe the design and performance of an atom trap trace analysis device for assaying the levels of radioactive krypton in LXe dark matter detectors.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Aprile, Elena
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 28, 2015