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Belina von Krosigk, Leiterin der neuen Emmy-Noether-Gruppe © UHH/MIN/Fuchs

EUR 1.5 million for dark matter research at University of Hamburg

Funding follows DFG approval of new Emmy Noether group

The new Emmy Noether Group at the University of Hamburg’s Department of Physics will begin searching for dark matter from July 2019 after the German Research Foundation approved EUR 1.5 million in funds over the next six years. The group, led by physicist Dr. Belina von Krosigk, will use underground measurements and special detectors for their search.

Search for dark matter at depth of two kilometres

About 85 per cent of the total mass of the universe is so-called dark matter or non-luminous material compared to visible elements such as moons or planets. However, physicists have not yet been able to evidence this in the laboratory. Now, the Hamburg Research Group is taking on this task in co-operation with SNOLAB; a Canadian underground physics laboratory at a depth of 2 km in Sudbury, Ontario. The laboratory is optimally shielded from cosmic rays and other sources of interference: “The deeper you go into the earth, the better the shielding works,” said von Krosigk.

Special detectors

Detectors consisting of germanium and silicon will be cooled down to absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius on the Kelvin scale) to allow dark matter to trigger a measurable rise in temperature. However, any successful measurements will present just another piece of the puzzle, said von Krosigk. The university’s Emmy Noether Programme enables young scientists to qualify for a professorship by independently leading a working group. During her doctorate, von Krosigk had worked, among others, in the SNOLAB underground laboratory in Canada where she searched for rarely interacting particles and so-called neutrinos.

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