Neutrino studies in the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment


  • Call:

    IDPASC Portugal - PHD Programme 2019

  • Academic Year:

    2019 / 2020

  • Domains:

    Experimental Particle Physics | Astroparticle Physics

  • Supervisor:

    Francisco Neves

  • Co-Supervisor:

    Alexandre Lindote

  • Institution:

    Universidade de Coimbra

  • Host Institution:

    Laboratório de Instrumentação e Física Experimental de Partículas

  • Abstract:

    Merging two teams with wide experience and an history of leadership in the field of direct dark matter detection (LUX and ZEPLIN), the LZ collaboration is developing a 10-ton dual-phase Liquid Xenon detector, the biggest ever built using this technology. With the protection offered by the outer layers of xenon, the 5 tonnes of the inner region of LZ will be an extraordinarily low background place, allowing this detector to improve the current best sensitivity to WIMPs (the leading dark matter candidate) by a factor of more than 100. But this extraordinarily quiet laboratory can also be used to study other important physics processes beyond dark matter search. While being an irreducible source of background in the context of WIMP searches, the high sensitivity of LZ will allow to study the fundamental properties of neutrinos as well their sources. Since neutrinos interact only very rarely with fermions or gauge bosons through weak interactions, they remain mostly unchanged since their creation and therefore provide an unique tool to probe the physics processes and conditions involved. In particular, LZ is expected to be sensitive to both the elastic scattering and coherent nuclear scattering of neutrinos from, respectively, pp, 7Be, 13N and 8B reactions in the sun thus allowing to study its core dynamics. Notably, the LZ ~1 keV energy threshold is expected to lead to an increase in sensitivity of ~1 order of magnitude relative to the current best upper limit of 5.4x10-11 μB for the neutrino magnetic moment. In this project, the student will be integrated in the activities of the LZ international collaboration being supported directly by the LIP team, largely experienced in all aspects of this type of experiment. The main focus of this project will be in the fundamental properties of neutrinos, their fluxes and sources, but this work will also have a valuable impact in the searches for various Dark Matter candidates (e.g. WIMPs, Axions, ALPs -- Axion Like Particles).