- Number 308 |
- March 29, 2010
Seeing dark matter on a desktop
Shoucheng Zhang of the
Stanford Institute for
Materials and Energy Science.
Desktop experiments could point the way to dark matter discovery, complementing grand astronomical searches and deep underground observations. According to recent results from theorists from the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, a joint institute of the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, small blocks of matter on a tabletop could reveal elusive properties of the as-yet-unidentified dark matter particles that make up a quarter of the universe, potentially making future large-scale searches easier.
In a paper published in the March 7 online edition of Nature Physics, condensed matter theorist Shoucheng Zhang and colleagues describe an experimental set-up that could detect for the first time the axion, a theoretical tiny, lightweight particle conjectured to permeate the universe. In their research into a newly discovered subset of materials called topological insulators, the theorists discovered that the electromagnetic behavior of these materials is described by the very same mathematical equations that describe the behavior of axions; wondrously, the laws of the universe related to axions are mirrored in topological insulators. As a result of this mathematical parallel, the theorists posit that experiments on topological insulators can reveal much about the axion, a candidate for the mysterious dark matter particle. Full story…
[Melinda Lee, 650.926.8547,