Ben-Gurion University to Develop Israel’s First Dark Matter Detector

BGU will construct and operate an advanced dark matter detector. The initiative is partly funded by a joint grant from the American National Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation.

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Dark matter is hypothesized to be one of the basic components of the universe, and five times more abundant than ordinary matter. It has yet to be detected, although several astronomical measurements have corroborated its existence, leading to an international effort to observe it directly. 

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. The project will bring together experts in the fields of atomic spectroscopy, magnetic sensors, lasers and optics, atomic clocks, and advanced electronics. 

BGU Prof. Ron Folman (pictured above), the incumbent of the Ruth Flinkman-Marandy and Ben Marandy Chair in Quantum Physics and Nanotechnology, will lead the project in collaboration with Prof. Derek Jackson Kimball of California State University East Bay in Heyward

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

Prof. Folman also heads BGU’s Atom Chip Lab. Among the BGU researchers involved in the project are Prof. Reuben Shuker, head of the quantum magnetometry group; Dr. David Levron; Dr. Andrei Ben-Amar Baranga; Dr. Asaf Gross; as well as Dr. David Groswasser and Dr. Meni Givon from the Atom Chip Lab.