Core Projects
BICEP2/The Keck Array/BICEP3
BICEP2, The Keck Array, and BICEP3 comprise a suite of experiments at the South Pole that are designed to measure the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) polarization at high precision to directly probe the epoch of inflation in the very early universe by measuring the unique polarization signature which would have been imprinted on the Cosmic Microwave Background by the inflationary Cosmic Gravitational-Wave Background. This so-called "B-mode" polarization pattern will be at level detectable if inflation is the result of GUT-scale physics.

BICEP2, The Keck Array, and BICEP3 all use a similar observation strategy, integrating relentlessly on the 2% of the sky that is the cleanest of Galactic foregrounds from the South Pole, an exceptionally clear, dry, and stable millimeter-wave observation site. This suite of experiments utilizes cold, on-axis refracting optics for a compact design that minimizes systematics, and antenna-coupled Transition Edge Sensors (TES). BICEP2 observed from 2010-2012 with 512 detectors at 150 GHz, The Keck Array is currently observing with 2560 detectors at 150 and 100 GHz, and BICEP3 will begin observations in 2015 with 2560 detectors at 100 GHz.

We are part of a multi-institution collaboration with 11 collaborating institutions.Learn more >>

Coherent Germanium Neutrino Technology, CoGeNT
Prof. Collar holding one of the early CoGeNT germanium detector prototypes. The small central contact, responsible for the modest electronic noise in these devices, is visible.
The CoGeNT experiment looks for a type of dark-matter particle called a WIMP, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particle, specifically those relatively light in mass. Recent data obtained at the Soudan Underground Laboratory present an excess of events that might be compatible with WIMPs in the mass range of 7-11 billion electronvolts. Several phenomenologies predict such dark matter candidates, which might also be behind a long-standing claim for dark matter detection by the DAMA/LIBRA group. Our investigation of this exciting possibility continues with the planned upgrade of the CoGeNT detector mass to an array comprising 5.2 kg of germanium crystals, in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

CoGeNT site at PNNL

The PICO-60 experiment
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An experimental effort to search for particle dark matter, the Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics debuted in 2004. A prototype bubble chamber sensitive to Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) was installed in the MINOS near detector gallery at Fermilab (FNAL). The chamber contained two kg of CF3I, a fire-extinguishing liquid that can be superheated to respond to very low energy nuclear recoils like those expected from WIMPs while being totally insensitive to minimum ionizing particles, the dominant background in this type of searches. The COUPP collaboration presently runs a 4 kg chamber in the Canadian SNOlab underground site, a recently commissioned 60 kg chamber, and is designing a 500 kg device.

The COUPP and Picasso collaborations have merged their efforts and become the PICO collaboration.

Local COUPP Website (introduction to COUPP)
COUPP site at FNAL
PICO Website

Dark Energy Survey, DES
The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is an international, collaborative effort to map hundreds of millions of galaxies, detect thousands of supernovae, and find patterns of cosmic structure that will reveal the nature of the mysterious dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of our Universe. DES began searching the Southern skies on August 31, 2013.

According to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, gravity should lead to a slowing of the cosmic expansion. Yet, in 1998, two teams of astronomers studying distant supernovae made the remarkable discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. To explain cosmic acceleration, cosmologists are faced with two possibilities: either 70% of the universe exists in an exotic form, now called dark energy, that exhibits a gravitational force opposite to the attractive gravity of ordinary matter, or General Relativity must be replaced by a new theory of gravity on cosmic scales.

DES is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion with high precision. More than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia are working on the project. The collaboration built and is using an extremely sensitive 570-Megapixel digital camera, DECam, mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, high in the Chilean Andes, to carry out the project.

Over five years (2013-2018), the DES collaboration is using 525 nights of observation to carry out a deep, wide-area survey to record information from 300 million galaxies that are billions of light-years from Earth. The survey is imaging 5000 square degrees of the southern sky, with 3400 sq-degrees overlapping the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich CMB surveys conducted by SPT, in five optical filters to obtain detailed information about each galaxy. A fraction of the survey time is used to observe smaller patches of sky roughly once a week to discover and study thousands of supernovae and other astrophysical transients.Learn more >>

Dark Matter in CCDs, DAMIC
The copper box hosting the CCD in the DAMIC set-up at SNOLAB.
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The DAMIC (Dark Matter in CCDs) experiment is an extremely low threshold direct dark matter detection experiment aimed at detecting, or convincingly ruling out the existence of, extremely low mass WIMPs. DAMIC began as a KICP New Initiative and is rapidly approaching completion. The final configuration of the experiment will consist of eighteen, 650 μm-thick, 16 Megapixel CCDs with a total mass of 100 g in a vacuum vessel which is surrounded by extremely-low-background shielding. The experiment is housed deep underground in SNOLAB. These CCDs have a very low noise level of 6.5 eV; allowing for a very low energy threshold for the detection of WIMP scattering. This will lead to world-leading sensitivity to very light WIMPs. Results from DAMIC should convincingly cover the low mass WIMP region of parameter space and directly probe the potential signal from the CDMS-II experiment.

South Pole Telescope, SPT
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10 meter (394 in) diameter telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica.
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The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter telescope at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole research station. Taking advantage of the exceptionally clear, dry, and stable atmosphere at the South Pole, the SPT will map large areas of the sky with high sensitivity at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths.

Virtually visit the South Pole Telescope and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which is operated by the National Science foundation via panoramic in Google Street View format.

The initial goal of the SPT was to explore the nature of dark energy, an unexplained phenomenon responsible for the observed acceleration in the expansion of the universe. The SPT will search for massive clusters of galaxies by looking for spectral distortions in the cosmic microwave background. Dark energy inhibits the growth of galaxy clusters, so studying the population of clusters through cosmic time will constrain models of dark energy.

With the installation of the polarization sensitive SPTpol detector, SPT began a program of searching for B-mode polarization in the CMB. During the 2016-17 austral summer, SPT's focal plane has once again been updated with the SPT-3G instrument which will significantly increase its sensitivity as it searches for B-modes in the microwave sky.

This research is a collaboration among nine U.S. and Canadian institutions.Learn more >>

Artistic rendering of the XENON1T experiment
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The XENON experiment is a 3500kg liquid xenon detector to search for the elusive Dark Matter. Vist the linked page to have a look at the description of the detection principle, the recent publications, some pictures, or materials for press contacts.

The XENON dark matter experiment is installed underground at the Laboratory Nazionali del Gran Sasso of INFN, Italy. It is operated as a dual phase (liquid/gas) time projection chamber to search for interactions of dark matter particles.

The XENON experiment is a collaboration of 120 scientists, representing 24 different nationalities, and 21 institutions across the world. About 60 graduate students are working in the collaboration to make this experiment the most sensitive search for dark matter ever performed.Learn more >>