New Experiment To “Trap” Dark Matter Could Unravel Mysteries of the Universe

Laser Photon System University of Nottingham

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a new method using a 3D printed vacuum system to detect dark matter and potentially uncover the nature of dark energy. This system manipulates gas density and utilizes ultra-cold lithium atoms to explore the effects of scalar fields, aiming to observe domain walls—defects formed during phase transitions in scalar fields. Laser photon system in the lab at the University of Nottingham. Credit: University of Nottingham

Scientists have devised a 3D-printed vacuum system to detect dark matter and explore dark energy, using ultra-cold lithium atoms to identify domain walls and potentially explain the universe’s accelerating expansion.

Scientists have developed a novel 3D-printed vacuum system designed to ‘trap’ dark matter, aiming to detect domain walls. This advancement represents a significant step forward in deciphering the mysteries of the universe.

Scientists from the University of Nottingham’s School of Physics have created a 3D-printed vacuum system that they will use in a new experiment to reduce the density of gas, then and add in ultra-cold lithium atoms to try to detect dark walls. The research has been published in the scientific journal Physical Review D.

Professor Clare Burrage from the School of Physics is one of the lead authors on the study and explains: “Ordinary matter that the world is made from is only a tiny fraction of the contents of the universe, around 5%, the rest is either dark matter or dark energy – we can see their effects on how the universe behaves but we don’t know what they are. One way people try to measure dark matter is to introduce a particle called a scalar field.

“Dark matter is the missing mass in galaxies, dark energy can explain the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. The scalar fields that we are looking for could be either dark matter, or dark energy. By introducing the ultra-cold atoms and examining the effects it produces we may be able to explain why the expansion of the universe is accelerating and whether this has any effects on Earth.”

The researchers based the construction of the 3D vessels on the theory that light scalar fields, with double well potentials and direct matter couplings, undergo density-driven phase transitions, leading to the formation of domain walls.

Methodology and Theory

Professor Burrage continues: “As density is lowered defects form – this is similar to when water freezes into ice, water molecules are random and when they freeze you get a crystal structure with molecules lined up at random, with some lined up one way and some another and this creates fault lines. Something similar happens in scalar fields as the density gets lower. You can’t see these fault lines by eye but if particles pass across them it might change their trajectory These defects are dark walls and can prove the theory of scalar fields – either that these fields exist or don’t.”

To detect these defects or dark walls the team has created a specially designed vacuum that they will use in a new experiment that will mimic moving from a dense environment to a less dense environment. Using the new set-up they will cool lithium atoms with laser photons to -273 which is close to absolute zero, at this temperature they take on quantum properties which makes analysis more precise and predictable.

Lucia Hackermueller, Associate Professor in the School of Physics has led the design of the laboratory experiment, she explains, “The 3D printed vessels we are using as the vacuum chamber have been constructed using theoretical calculations of Dark Walls, this has created what we believed to be the ideal shape, structure, and texture to trap the dark matter. To successfully demonstrate that dark walls have been trapped, we will let a cold atom cloud pass through those walls. The cloud is then deflected. To cool those atoms we fire laser photons at the atoms, which reduces the energy in the atom – this is like slowing down an elephant using snowballs!”

The system took the team three years to build and they expect to have results within a year.

Dr. Hackermueller adds: “Whether we prove dark walls exist or not it will be an important step forward in our understanding of dark energy and dark matter, and an excellent example of how a well-controlled lab experiment can be designed to directly measure effects that are relevant for the Universe and otherwise cannot be observed.”

Reference: “Detecting dark domain walls through their impact on particle trajectories in tailored ultrahigh vacuum environments” by Kate Clements, Benjamin Elder, Lucia Hackermueller, Mark Fromhold and Clare Burrage, 14 June 2024, Physical Review D.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.109.123023

3 Comments on "New Experiment To “Trap” Dark Matter Could Unravel Mysteries of the Universe"

  1. The only thing these people are trapping is taxpayers’ money.

  2. Ralph Johnson | July 5, 2024 at 4:53 am | Reply

    The hunt for two theoretical misturys, Now we another to prove the scalar field , I agree with the Boba comment as long as money fuels their research it will continue.We see something out there and we mathematically calculate a missing piece so the question unanswered has appeal, I would like to know how many different experiments are being conducted for the dark matter search ?.

    • Ralph Johnson | July 5, 2024 at 5:50 am | Reply

      Dark matter was discovered by astronomers noticing an interaction with gravity, the observation of large scale structures and gravitational lensing. with this proof I can add the photon and what we see in the depths of space the color shift of light, a weakly charged photon reaches us as the red shift, that in mind photons are so numerous from the sources and gravity waves are probably numerous as in verity, very influential and the subtlety noticeable with many variations between. Take the lensing of gravity and change the formula to a compaction of light photons then having more area of the subtle red shift photon and steer one intensive photon through the lensed red shift photons may produce a observable sample for experimentation.

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