Luminous Dark Matter searches with XENONnT and DARWIN experiments

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Dark Matter

The Xenon Group of the SUBATECH laboratory in France and the School of Physics of the University of Melbourne in Australia are seeking two highly motivated students with a Masters degree in physics and a solid background in particle and/or astroparticle physics to work on a joint project to probe luminous dark matter with liquid xenon time projection chambers.

The existence of Dark Matter is known from gravitational effects, but its nature is still totally unknown, and its characterization is one of the major theoretical and experimental challenges of modern particle and astroparticle physics. Several proposed candidates have been put forward over time, among them, the Luminous Dark Matter. In recent years, this model has gained a lot of attention as it could possibly explain a recent observation by the XENON1t experiment of a yet-unexplained electronic signal.

In this context, the main objective of this project is the search for Luminous Dark Matter with the dual-phase liquid xenon time projection chambers XENONnT and DARWIN.

Dual-phase liquid xenon time projection chambers are among the most promising technologies for the proposed research. The XENON1T experiment has recently achieved the most stringent limits on dark matter searches and demonstrated its exceptional capabilities of xenon for additional rare event detections. Xenon detectors are expected to continue leading the field with the DARWIN experiment.

The SUBATECH Xenon Group is strongly involved in dark matter and rare event searches within the international XENON collaboration, which is operating the XENONnT experiment at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, in Italy. The group is contributing to the R&D and sensitivity studies of DARWIN to rare events physics channels.

The School of Physics of the University of Melbourne recently joined the DARWIN collaboration. Their members have strong expertise in theoretical modelling and data interpretation including direct detection dark matter searches and physics beyond the Standard Model. The school hosts the Australia Research Council Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics and is part of a university consortium that supports the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.

Project goals

The main objective of this project is the search for Luminous Dark Matter with the dual-phase liquid xenon time projection chambers XENONnT and DARWIN.

The graduate researcher based primarily at SUBATECH will be a member of the XENON and DARWIN collaborations. They will analyse data from the XENONnT experiment and integrate the simulation and analysis frameworks of the XENONnT with new tools developed explicitly to test the Luminous Dark Matter hypothesis.

The graduate researcher based primarily at The University of Melbourne will collaborate with SUBATECH in integrating the Luminous Dark Matter model into the DARWIN analysis framework and will be a member of the DARWIN collaboration. They will study and simulate all the possible sources of backgrounds for dark matter searches and will develop novel analysis methods to improve dark matter detection to optimize the  DARWIN experiment design to maximize its sensitivity to the Luminous Dark Matter hypothesis.

Both graduate researchers will also participate in hardware R&D activities for the DARWIN project.

Supervision team

*Click on the researcher's name above to learn more about their publication and grant successes.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • Demonstrated experience in the field of particle or astroparticle physics
  • Demonstrated experience with Monte Carlo simulations and data analysis
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

Further details

  • The PhD candidates will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.
  • Professor Elisabetta Luigia Barberio and her team at the University of Melbourne will contribute expertise in data mining techniques and data interpretation. Dr Sara Diglio will contribute expertise in the area of dark matter data analysis and R&D.
  • One PhD project will be based at the SUBATECH laboratory in Nantes with a minimum 12-month stay at the University of Melbourne. The other PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with a minimum 12-month stay at the SUBATECH laboratory in Nantes.
  • The two candidates will be enrolled in the PhD program at the IMT Atlantique Nantes School of the SUBATECH laboratory and in the PhD at the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne.

To apply for this joint PhD opportunity, and to view the entry requirements, visit How to apply.

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