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Theses Doctoral

The Cryogenic Infrastructure of the XENON1T Dark Matter Experiment: from Design to Performance during the One Ton-Year WIMP Search

Zhang, Yun

An abundance of evidence from a wide range of astrophysical and cosmological observations suggests the existence of nonluminous cold dark matter, which makes up about 83% of the matter and 27% of the mass-energy of the Universe. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) have been one of the most promising dark matter candidates. Various detection techniques have been used to directly search for the interaction in terrestrial detectors where WIMP particles are expected to scatter off target nuclei. Over the last fifteen years, dual-phase time projection chambers (TPCs) with liquid xenon (LXe) as target and detection medium have led the WIMP dark matter search. The XENON dark matter search project is a phased program focused on the direct detection of WIMPs through a series of experiments employing dual-phase xenon TPCs with increasing target mass operated at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory (LNGS) in Italy. The XENON1T experiment is the most recent generation, completed at the end of 2018. The XENON1T dark matter search results from the one ton-year exposure have set the most stringent limit on the WIMP-nucleon spin-independent elastic scatter cross-section over a wide range of masses, with a minimum upper limit of 4.1 x 10⁻⁴⁷ cm² at 30 GeV · c⁻² and a 90% confidence level.

XENON1T is the first WIMP dark matter experiment which has deployed a dual-phase xenon TPC at the multi-ton scale, with 3.2 t of LXe used. The large xenon mass posed new challenges in reliable and stable xenon cooling, in achieving and maintaining ultra-high purity as well as in efficient and safe xenon storage, transfer and recovery. The Cryogenic Infrastructure was designed and constructed to solve these challenges. It consists of four highly interconnected systems --- the Cryogenic System, the Purification System, the Cryostat and Cryogenic Pipe, and the ReStoX System. The XENON1T Cryogenic Infrastructure has performed successfully and will continue to serve the next generation experiment, called XENONnT, with a new Cryostat containing a total of 8.4 tons of xenon.

I first give an instrument overview of the systems in XENON1T. I then review the cooling methods in LXe detectors which led to the design of the cooling system implemented in the XENON1T experiment, and suggest a design of the cooling system for future LXe dark matter experiments at the 50 tons scale. I describe and discuss in detail the design and the performance of the XENON1T Cryogenic Infrastructure. Finally, I describe the detector stability and the corresponding data selection in all three XENON1T science runs, and describe the dark matter search results from the one ton-year exposure.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Aprile, Elena
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 19, 2021