Seminar Details

Gas-Filled Detectors: the Long-Distance Champions of Particle Physics

David Nygren, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
Thursday, September 26, 4:10 PM - Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
Biomedical & Physical Sciences Bldg., Rm. 1415

The first detection of single ionizing events occurred more than 100 years ago when Ernest Rutherford and Hans Geiger succeeded in recording individual alpha-particles from radon decay using a gas-filled detector and an electrometer. Remarkably diverse and useful innovations followed, and continue to emerge even today. Thus, gas-filled detectors are the exemplary evolutionary survivors in nuclear and particle physics experimental technique. Although this ample record has many interesting chapters, I will focus on my favorite topics within this humble corner of the quest to understand our universe. The evolution of these devices is interesting not only for their substantial contributions to scientific progress, but also for what was, surprisingly, overlooked as technology evolved. Energy spectrum measured for 137Cs γ-rays (662 keV) with a high-pressure xenon gas TPC, relevant to the search for neutrino-less double-beta decay in 136Xe. This appears to be the best energy resolution ever obtained in a xenon-based detector. This result also implies several important benefits for a direct detection WIMP search including the possibility of directional sensitivity to the expected "WIMP wind" in a massive detector.