Xenon and Dark Matter Detection
Date: Spring 2013
How does xenon detect dark matter? Why is xenon used? What property does it have that gives it the ability to detect dark matter?
The answer is pretty technical: lots of atoms in a small volume; lots of electrons per atom; massive nucleus, which does not recoil very much when hit; two naturally occurring isotopes with odd and even numbers of nucleons; interaction yields both electrons and scintillation light.
See section 2 of the following conference paper for more detail:
Thanks for the question. I believe Xenon (in the liquified state) is used since it has a large number of neutrons and protons. It is easy to purify as high purity is needed for the experiments. Also, large volumes of xenon can be used to make detectors, so the overall efficiency of the detector is increased.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions.
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Update: November 2011