New Ideas in Dark Matter Detection
The search for new particle physics has focused on accelerating particles to higher energies in search of new states. However, dark matter may reside in a low energy hidden sector. I propose new ideas to search for it utilizing collective excitations in quantum materials.
High energy colliders have been the traditional probe for particle physics. The quest for new physics has been focused on accelerating particles to higher energies in search of new states. While I have carried out work on more standard types of collider probes for new physics, my work has focused on fundamentally new types of searches at colliders, utilizing exotic signatures.
I have focused on low mass sectors that have been hidden previously from experiments because they couple to the Standard Model either through a heavy mediator (such as the Higgs boson) or through a light weakly coupled mediator (such as a kinetically mixed U(1) or a light scalar with small couplings to SM states). I build models and seek to understand the implications for our Universe.
This work is closely connected to the drive for the theory of dark matter. While dark matter dominates the dynamics of our Universe, it interacts only very weakly with ordinary matter, making identifying its underlying theory an open question; its answer will change our understanding of the Universe. Sensitive underground detectors look for rare interactions of dark matter (focused on weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs)) with target nuclei. The standard WIMP theory is becoming increasingly stretched thin by experimental constraints.
We are searching for new ways to hunt for the dark matter. I have proposed qualitatively new types of theories for dark matter and their detection. New experimental efforts are underway as a result of these ideas, particularly with graphene, superfluid helium and polar materials. We are also exploring how the symmetry properties of these materials (in magnetic and Dirac targets) can be exploited to broaden the interactions probed.