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Sci Adv. 2018 Dec 7;4(12):eaau4869. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4869. eCollection 2018 Dec.

New bounds on dark matter coupling from a global network of optical atomic clocks.

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Institute of Physics, Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Informatics, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Grudziądzka 5, PL-87-100 Toruń, Poland.
JILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0440, USA.
National Institute of Standards and Technology, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305-3337, USA.
LNE-SYRTE, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, 61 avenue de l'Observatoire 75014 Paris, France.
Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0440, USA.
National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 4-2-1 Nukuikitamachi, Koganei, 184-8795 Tokyo, Japan.
National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Teddington TW11 0LW, UK.


We report on the first Earth-scale quantum sensor network based on optical atomic clocks aimed at dark matter (DM) detection. Exploiting differences in the susceptibilities to the fine-structure constant of essential parts of an optical atomic clock, i.e., the cold atoms and the optical reference cavity, we can perform sensitive searches for DM signatures without the need for real-time comparisons of the clocks. We report a two orders of magnitude improvement in constraints on transient variations of the fine-structure constant, which considerably improves the detection limit for the standard model (SM)-DM coupling. We use Yb and Sr optical atomic clocks at four laboratories on three continents to search for both topological defect and massive scalar field candidates. No signal consistent with a DM coupling is identified, leading to considerably improved constraints on the DM-SM couplings.

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