An international collaboration of scientists, with GRAPPA member Patrick Decowski and his team, inaugurated the new XENON1T experiment in the underground Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy. It is designed to search with an unprecedented sensitivity for dark matter, one of the main ingredients of the Universe.
XENON1T is located in the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy, one of the largest underground laboratories in the world. “We perform our experiment in a water tank, 1400 meter underground, because we want to detect only dark matter, and filter out all other types of radiation. The massive layer of rock and the water shield off the sensitive equipment” says Decowski.
It took 20 research groups from 10 countries five years to complete the experiment. As soon as XENON1T is fully operational, it will take about a week for the experiment to become the most sensitive dark matter experiment in the world. With a total mass of 3500 kg it is the third generation of instruments in the XENON project that started 15 years ago. XENON1T is named after the noble gas xenon, with which the detector is filled. A collision of dark matter with xenon would result in a tiny flash of light. 248 extremely sensitive light sensors will be searching for such flashes. The first results are expected early 2016.