First results from BREAD experiment demonstrate a new approach to searching for dark matter | News

One of the great mysteries of modern science is dark matter. We know dark matter exists thanks to its effects on other objects in the cosmos, but we have never been able to directly see it. And it’s no minor thing — currently, scientists think it makes up about 85% of all the mass in the universe.

A new experiment by a collaboration led by the University of Chicago and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, known as the Broadband Reflector Experiment for Axion Detection or BREAD, has released its first results in the search for dark matter in a study published in Physical Review Letters. Though they did not find dark matter, they narrowed the constraints for where it might be and demonstrated a unique approach that may speed up the search for the mysterious substance, at relatively little space and cost.

“We’re very excited about what we’ve been able to do so far,” said UChicago Assoc. Prof. David Miller, co-leader for the experiment alongside Fermilab’s Andrew Sonnenschein, who originally developed the concept for the experiment. “There are lots of practical advantages to this design, and we’ve already shown the best sensitivity to date in this 11-12 gigahertz frequency.”

“This result is a milestone for our concept, demonstrating for the first time the power of our approach,” said Fermilab postdoctoral scholar and study lead author Stefan Knirck, who spearheaded the construction and operation of the detector. “It is great to do this kind of creative tabletop-scale science, where a small team can do everything from building the experiment to data analysis, but still have a great impact on modern particle…

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