Table top searches for exotic signals

Project Details


Data collected via a large body of astronomic observations necessitate the existence of some kind of nonbaryonic, or “dark” matter. So far, aside from the gravitational interaction of Dark Matter (DM) with baryonic material, there is no evidence of any other interaction of the DM with baryons or photons.

One of the DM candidates is the Axion, or Axion-like-particle (ALP). Those are dark-matter fields with masses in the range of 10’24eV < ma < 10’2eV. These fields (or their gradients) may interact with the spin of baryonic particles, and there are several ongoing experiments looking for such an interaction.

Our project is part of the Global Network of Optical Magnetometers to search for Exotic physics (GNOME collaboration). The collaboration uses a global network of GPS-synchronized optical magnetometers to detect transient interactions with dark matter — interactions of the atomic spins in these magnetometers with gradients of the Axion dark-matter field.

Our main task under this NSF-BSF grant was to build in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) a GNOME station in a co-magnetometer configuration and integrate it into the GNOME network. At BGU we developed a detailed simulation of the interactions in the “Rb-39K-3He co-magnetometer's vapor cell and analyzed several scenarios. In parallel, we designed and built the station, purchasing most of the parts from Twinleaf LLC, a US company (Twinleaf is a sole supplier of the most critical system components). However, a series of delays related both to supply issues and to equipment failures held us back for almost three years, which is most of the time of the project. A detailed description of these delays is presented in appendices 1 and 2.

At the time this report is written, all hardware failures have been resolved, we are near the end of the apparatus fine-tuning process, and we are quite confident that we will not encounter any more equipment failures. We are committed to continue the operation of our station for years to come, integrate it into the global GNOME network as originally planned, and actively participate in the data taking and analysis, as well as the theoretical work, so as to advance Dark Matter research.

To conclude, although no data has been collected thus far, and no joint publications have been made, this BSF-NSF project has given rise to the forming of a serious scientific collaboration at the cutting edge of science, a collaboration which will undoubtedly result in a significant novel scientific output in the years to come.

Effective start/end date1/01/16 → …


  • United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)


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