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Development of new cryogenic detectors to extend the physics reach of the CRESST experiment


Bertoldo,  Elia
Max Planck Institute for Physics, Max Planck Society and Cooperation Partners;

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Bertoldo, E. (2020). Development of new cryogenic detectors to extend the physics reach of the CRESST experiment. PhD Thesis, LMU München, München.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-1C37-C
The vast presence of dark matter in the Universe is nowadays one of the biggest unresolved mysteries of science. The dark matter problem stems from cosmological and astronomical observations which, however, do not provide any information about the nature of dark matter. The only broad information is that this invisible matter interacts gravitationally with ordinary matter. As such, one of the ongoing attempts is to solve this problem through particle physics, meaning that dark matter would be composed by one or more elementary particles. Unfortunately, there is not an obvious solution offered by particle physics, since none of the particles known today can be the main component of dark matter. There are multiple theories predicting the existence of particles not yet discovered which would solve the dark matter puzzle: these particles can have a vast range of masses and interactions with ordinary matter. Since there is no reason to favor a particle candidate over another, the only realistic path to a discovery is to realize a range of different experiments that can investigate as many of these candidates as possible. One of the most successful experiments involved in the search for hypothetical dark matter particles is CRESST. This experiment employs extremely sensitive cryogenic detectors aimed at detecting dark matter particles reaching Earth. The idea is that these dark matter particles can eventually interact with one of the detectors placed inside an underground laboratory on Earth, leaving a feeble trace. Nowadays, CRESST is in its third generation of experimental search, CRESST-III, and employs scintillating CaWO4 crystals instrumented with superconducting thermometers. In the past decades, CRESST has mostly focused on probing a specific type of interactions between dark matter particles and ordinary matter, called spin-independent interactions. However, CRESST in the years has developed a cutting-edge technology which allows the exploration of a wider range of interactions in astroparticle physics. One of the straightforward expansion of the CRESST dark matter search is the investigation of spin-dependent interactions, which can be performed with the adoption of different target crystals. Furthermore, the superconducting thermometers developed by CRESST can be used to probe almost any physical phenomenon that requires a low energy threshold in combination with a high energy resolution. One of the application of CRESST-like thermometers is the search of solar axions employing a suitable target crystal.