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Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Nov 3;119(18):181303. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.181303. Epub 2017 Nov 1.

Dark Matter Detection Using Helium Evaporation and Field Ionization.

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Department of Physics, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


We describe a method for dark matter detection based on the evaporation of helium atoms from a cold surface and their subsequent detection using field ionization. When a dark matter particle scatters off a nucleus of the target material, elementary excitations (phonons or rotons) are produced. Excitations which have an energy greater than the binding energy of helium to the surface can result in the evaporation of helium atoms. We propose to detect these atoms by ionizing them in a strong electric field. Because the binding energy of helium to surfaces can be below 1 meV, this detection scheme opens up new possibilities for the detection of dark matter particles in a mass range down to 1  MeV/c^{2}.

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