EPJ Plus Highlight - Searching for dark matter with a haloscope

An artist’s impression of the haloscope, ready for testing at a temperature close to absolute zero. Credit: Nicolò Crescini

A new paper in EPJ Plus introduces a novel method of searching for a type of dark matter known as axions; a modified version of this technique may have useful ‘real life’ applications.

Most of the universe is now thought to consist of dark matter: mysterious substances which, because they don’t interact with light or any other kind of electromagnetic radiation, are almost impossible to detect. Physicists have been searching for it for decades, using different techniques; Nicolò Crescini, now of Institut Néel, Grenoble, France, developed a novel method of searching for one type of dark matter, axions, when working at the Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro, Padova, Italy. This work has now been published in the journal EPJ Plus.

Axions are hypothetical particles that were introduced in the 1970s to plug a gap in the Standard Model of particle physics, namely the strong CP problem. “Studying axions is a good way of catching two birds - dark matter and the strong CP problem - with one stone, the axion,” says Crescini.

The methods used to look for axions differ from the typical particle physics experiments that involve colliding fast-moving particles in accelerators. Instead, these experiments search for weak electromagnetic anomalies that can be detected at extremely low energy and indicate axions coupling to other fundamental particles.

“Most of these experiments look for axions coupling with photons,” adds Crescini. “This approach searches for coupling with electrons, which is more challenging but can yield richer results.” It involves placing a sample of magnetic material in a very well controlled environment close to the absolute zero of temperature and monitoring it for the anomalous variations in magnetisation that might indicate axion activity. The system is a type of magnetometer known as a haloscope after the Dark Matter halo of the Milky Way.

This experiment, named QUAX (short for ‘Quaerere Axions, where ‘quaerere’ is Latin for ‘to search’), is not yet sensitive enough to be able to detect axions. “It needs to be scaled up, and more sensitive sensors need to be employed,” says Crescini. “Nevertheless, this research also has practical applications: we have patented a modified version that could be used as a commercial magnetometer.”

Crescini, N. Building instructions for a ferromagnetic axion haloscope. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 137, 338 (2022).

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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