Kathryn Zurek - Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 12:30pm
Pupin Hall Theory Center, 8th Floor


“Broadening the Searchlight: New Ideas in Dark Matter Detection”

Searches for massive dark matter have largely focused on a mass window near the weak scale, the so-called “WIMP window".  This window is, however, becoming increasingly closed by both the LHC and the unprecedented sensitivity of direct detection experiments.  At the same time, theoretical work in recent years has shown lighter dark matter candidates in a hidden sector are theoretically well-motivated, natural and arise generically in many theories beyond the standard model.  New ideas are needed to search for dark matter with mass below a GeV and as light as the warm dark matter limit of a keV.  We propose new ideas to search for such light dark matter with superconductors, Dirac materials, superfluid helium, and polar crystals.  We show that these same experiments, through inelastic processes, may also be sensitive to dark matter with masses in the meV to keV mass window, broadening the mass reach to light dark matter by many orders of magnitude.

About the speaker

Kathryn has a wide range of interests, mostly focused at the boundary of particle physics with astrophysics and cosmology. Her work spans both studies of new physics signatures at colliders, as well as astrophysical searches for dark matter (DM) and physics beyond the Standard Model in the neutrino sector. Kathryn originated Hidden Valley models as a portal to hidden world signatures, including displaced decays, at colliders. More recently, she has been most active in the study of DM, working on theories of DM and ways that we can detect it in the lab by DM-nucleus interactions, at colliders through high energy collisions, and in the galaxy by DM self-annihilations. Kathryn introduced simple, viable models of Asymmetric Dark Matter as an alternative to the standard paradigm of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, and developed the cosmology of these models. Recently, she has been studying the evolution of scalar fields (such as the Higgs boson) with a potential instability during inflation.

More details on Kathryn's research can be found here.