Particle physics experiments

Underground cave ready for dark matter experiments

Stage 1 of the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) is open today, Friday 19 August 2022. The University of Adelaide is a founding partner in the project to build a national underground facility to study dark matter.

Professor Tony Williams, Deputy Director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Particle Physics in Dark Matter and Associate Director of the Center for the Subatomic Structure of Matter at the University of Adelaide, helped lead the involvement of the University in the project throughout the planning and fundraising stages.

“The newly completed laboratory a mile underground in an active Victorian gold mine is now ready for the next stage of the SUPL project,” he said.

“The completion of SUPL means that the flagship experiment, the Sodium Iodide Experiment with Active Background Rejection (SABRE), can now be installed. This will require the steel vessel to house the SABER experiment, large quantities of liquid scintillator and tons of ultra-pure steel shielding are transported on trucks to the mine and delivered to the laboratory.

“SABER is an approach to learning more about dark matter and is the primary initial motivation for funding and building SUPL.”

The University of Adelaide is a founding member of the SABER Experimental Collaboration. Professor Williams and his colleagues are trying to unlock the secrets of dark matter, which makes up about 85% of the matter in the universe but about which we know little.

The SUPL is the first underground physics laboratory in the southern hemisphere and will also be a training environment for a new generation of scientists.

“The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory is essential to the quest for a better understanding of the particulate nature of dark matter. This next stage of the project brings us closer to answering the most important unanswered question in physics today. Professor Tony Williams, Deputy Director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Particle Physics in Dark Matter and Associate Director of the Center for the Subatomic Structure of Matter,

“The SUPL is essential to the quest for a better understanding of the particulate nature of dark matter,” said Professor Williams.

“This next stage of the project brings us one step closer to answering the most important unanswered question in physics today.

“His discovery will have the same importance and impact as the discoveries of the Higgs boson and gravitational waves.”

The SUPL is not just an underground physics laboratory. Its deep underground environment with very low radioactivity, and the technologies derived from its ultra-sensitive detectors are also of interest to nuclear science (ANSTO), defense (DST Group – particularly in internal security), geology and geophysics, engineering , cancer biology and research, and astrobiology (exobiology) to name a few.

The project in Stawell, Victoria, is a collaboration between six partners – led by the University of Melbourne alongside the University of Adelaide, Swinburne University of Technology, Australian National University, Australian Organization for Nuclear Science and Technology and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Research. Physics.