Astrophysical measurements and cosmological predictions suggest the exists of a large amount of matter in the universe that does not interact via electromagnetic forces. This non-luminescent matter, known dark matter, exists in halos that encompass and are within galaxies, including the Milky Way. Therefore, dark matter particles should should be directly detectable by experiments on Earth, such as the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS). Dark matter is assumed to be low mass (< 100 GeV/c2) and interact via the weak force using either a spin-independent or spin-dependent coupling. However, making incorrect assumptions about dark matter interactions can lead to misleading results. Because interactions with dark matter particles are rare, direct detection experiments must be able to shield for or reject backgrounds to very low levels. Low energy neutron backgrounds that make it to the detectors are especially dangerous, because they cannot be easily distinguished from the expected dark matter signal. Scintillator doped with a high neutron-capture cross-section material can be used to detect neutrons via their resulting gamma rays. Examples of such detectors using liquid scintillator have been successfully used in past high-energy physics (HEP) experiments. However, a liquid scintillator can leak and is not as amenable to modular or complex shapes as a solid scintillator. The light outputs and efficiencies of gadolinium-loaded polystyrene-based scintillators have been explored using a wide variety of gadolinium compounds with varying concentrations. Collection strategies using a wavelength shift- ing (WLS) fiber and silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) were also evaluated as a possible neutron veto for an upgrade to SuperCDMS SNOLAB. The scattering of dark matter particles off nuclei in direct detection experiments can be described in terms of a multidimensional effective field theory (EFT). A new systematic analysis technique is developed using the EFT approach and Bayesian inference methods to exploit, when possible, the energy-dependent information of the detected events, experimental efficiencies, and backgrounds. Highly dimensional likelihoods are calculated over the mass of the weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) and multiple EFT coupling coefficients, which can then be used to set limits on these parameters and choose models (EFT operators) that best fit the direct detection data. Expanding the parameter space beyond the standard spin-independent isoscalar cross section and WIMP mass reduces tensions between previously published experiments. Combining these experiments to form a single joint likelihood leads to stronger limits than when each experiment is considered on its own. Simulations using two nonstandard operators (O3 and O8) are used to test the proposed analysis technique in up to five dimensions and demonstrate the importance of using multiple likelihood projections when determining constraints on WIMP mass and EFT coupling coefficients. In particular, this shows that an explicit momentum dependence in dark matter scattering can be identified. CDMSlite Run 2 was a search for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) with a cryogenic 600 g Germanium detector operated deep underground. It was operated in a mode optimizing sensitivity to WIMPs of relatively low mass, 2 - 20 GeV, while sacrificing background rejection. An EFT analysis of CDMSlite Run 2 data from SuperCDMS Soudan is presented here. A binned likelihood Bayesian analysis was performed on the data, optimizing over the parameters of EFT interactions and the recoil energy spectra due to the dominant Compton scattering and tritium backgrounds. Recoil energy regions within 5σ of known activation peaks were removed from the analysis. The Bayesian evidences of the resulting likelihoods show that CDMSlite Run 2 data is entirely consistent with the background models with no EFT interaction necessary. Upper limits on the WIMP mass and coupling coefficients amplitudes and phases are presented for each EFT operator.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2018. Major: Physics. Advisor: Vuk Mandic. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 137 pages.
Effective Field Theory Analysis and Active Neutron Veto Design for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search.
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