Unveiling the true nature of dark matter is one of the most significant challenges in modern particle physics and astrophysics. Determination of the dark matter particle mass and interactions will shed light on a wealth of physics beyond the Standard Model, and will have a fundamental impact on our understanding of the universe from the smallest to the largest scales. A global experimental effort has been ongoing for almost forty years to directly detect weakly interacting dark matter in the laboratory, and technologies using liquid xenon (LXe) have emerged to lead this search. As these LXe-based detectors increase in size and sensitivity, one particular technical challenge has been the application of sufficiently high electric field across the liquid xenon, which is necessary to achieve sufficient background rejection. LUX-ZEPLIN is the largest and most sensitive LXe-based dark matter experiment to ever be constructed, and has been many years in the making. After its final construction and commissioning during the depths of the COVID lockdown, LUX-ZEPLIN has now collected its first science data. I will present these first data and what they tell us about dark matter so far.
Speaker: Dan McKinsey, UC Berkeley
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