A.K. Drukier- SPACS Colloquium Monday Oct. 29, 2012 3pm

Detecting WIMPs using molecular biology methods

Monday at 3:00 pm in Research Hall room 161

Drukier abstract. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) may constitute most of the matter in the Universe. While there are intriguing results from DAMA/LIBRA, CoGEnt and CRESST-II, there is not yet a compelling detection of dark matter. The ability to detect direction of recoil nuclei will considerably facilitate detection of WIMPs by means of “annual modulation effect” (AME) and by means of “diurnal modulation effect” (DME). Directional sensitivity requires either extremely large gas Time Projection Chamber (TPC) detectors or detectors with a few nanometer spatial resolution. We propose a novel type of dark matter detector: detectors made of DNA provide nanometer resolution for tracking, energy threshold of 0.5 keV, and can operate at room temperature. Here the recoiling nuclei from WIMP scatter on Au foils traverse thousands of DNA strands (each with known base sequence) and break-those DNA strands they encounter. The cut-off DNAs are collected, amplified and sequenced using techniques well known to biologists. The path of the recoiling nucleus can be tracked with a few nanometer accuracy. A particular design is proposed in which the transducers are Au-foils (1m x1m) with a few nanometer thickness. The direction of recoiling nuclei is measured by “DNA Tracker Chamber” consisting of ordered array of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing are used to read-out the detector. By leveraging advances in molecular biology, we aim to achieve about 1,000-fold better spatial resolution than in conventional WIMP detectors at reasonable costs.