Color centers: a new technique to detect low-mass dark matter

  Gonzalo Martinez Lema [1]  ,  Yossi Mosbacher [1]  ,  Micha Weiss [1]  ,  Hagar Landsman [1]  ,  Ranny Budnik [1]  ,  Nadav Priel [2]  ,  Ilan Eliyahu [2]  ,  Arik Kreisel [2]  ,  Offir Ozeri [2]  ,  David Hershkovich [2]  ,  Ori Cheshnovsky [3]  
[1] Weizmann Institute of Science
[2] Soreq Nuclear Research Center
[3] Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Chemistry

In the last decades there have been many attempts to discover dark matter (DM). So far the efforts have established very strong limits on the cross-section of WIMP-nucleon interactions. However, these limits are restricted to a DM mass range of >~ 1 GeV/c^2 due to the relatively high energy threshold of the detection technique. We present a novel approach to the detection of light DM: Color Centers (CCs). These are crystal defects that can capture an electron and become fluorescent. The production threshold for these defects is much smaller than for the current techniques, which would allow searching for DM masses of >~ 100 MeV/c^2 through interactions with a nucleus, far beyond the sensitivities of the current experiments. This project is in R&D phase and we report our progress in finding crystals suitable for the detection of DM.