Israel to build its first ‘dark matter’ detector

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will attempt to shed light on the hypothetical type of cosmic matter.

June 13, 2017 18:07
1 minute read.
Deep space bright nebula

Deep space bright nebula. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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An advanced detector of “dark matter” – thought to be one of the basic components of the universe and five-fold more abundant than ordinary matter – will be built and operated by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Although dark matter has yet to be detected, several astronomical measurements have corroborated its existence, leading to an international effort to observe it directly. The initiative is partly funded by a joint grant from the American National Science Foundation and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation.

The detector will be based on the theory that some types of dark matter produce a signal imitating a magnetic field and may therefore be detectable by extremely sensitive magnetic sensors. Experts in the fields of atomic spectroscopy, magnetic sensors, lasers and optics, atomic clocks and advanced electronics will cooperate on the effort, which will be led by BGU Prof.

Ron Folman with Prof. Derek Jackson Kimball of California State University, East Bay.

“Astronomical observations have brought the scientific community to the conclusion that a very large portion of the mass in the universe does not emit light and is therefore invisible to our telescopes,” said Folman, who also heads BGU’s Atom Chip Lab.

“This has led to the dark matter paradigm. The essence of this project is to find new methods to detect this material.”

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