Ultrasensitive Searches for the Axion

Monday, November 28, 2016 - 4:15pm
Room #1 LeConte Hall
UC Berkeley, Nuclear Engineering
Public Lecture: 

After four decades, the axion, a hypothetical elementary particle, still represents the best solution to the Strong-CP problem, i.e. why the neutron has a vanishingly small electric dipole moment.   Should the axion exist, it would be extremely light, and possess extraordinarily feeble couplings to matter and radiation, far beyond the reach of conventional particle physics experiments.  Very light axions would also have been produced abundantly during the Big Bang, and thus the axion represents a well-motivated dark matter candidate.  However, the coherent mixing of axions and photons in a strong magnetic field provides a strategy for elegant and ultrasensitive experiments that may finally render the axion observable.  This talk will primarily review the microwave cavity search for halo dark matter axions and present first results from a high-frequency search, but also briefly discuss the search for solar axions, and purely laboratory experiments, such as photon regeneration (“shining light through the wall”).