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Dark matter searches


Our research project is linked to the effort towards elucidating the dark matter composition. We propose to tackle this problem both from an experimental as well as from a phenomenological point of view, giving continuity to our past research contributions. Our group has an active role in the DarkSide collaboration, which aims at direct detecting dark matter. On the phenomenological front, we have contributed by building dark matter models, as well as by constructing analysis methods to probe these models. We are interested on dark matter candidates predicted by extensions of the standard model of particle physics. In this way, our project stands at the interface between cosmology and particle physics. Given that many of the most sought dark matter scenarios have been ruled out, our main goal is to investigate models that fall beyond the up to now standard search region. This is defined by the dark matter interaction cross-section (assuming weak scale interaction) versus its mass (normally taken above 10~GeV/$c^2$). In expanding the search region, we have in our favor the fact that experiments have reached an excellent technological standard, which allow them to probe cross-sections at the lower limits of the weak scale. Within this goal is the investigation of light dark matter models, with masses of order GeV/$c^2$ or smaller. Examples of models that we will consider are asymmetric candidates and those included in the dark sector. Some of the candidates are so light that end up interacting with the target's electrons instead of with their nuclei. Experimentally, our group has lead the DarkSide analysis that demonstrated that our experiment can probe this mass region. In this front, it is our goal to probe more precise and robustly light dark matter candidates. To reach this goal, we propose to acquire and commission a Neutron Gun in our institute. Phenomenologically, our group has been the first to apply a proper effective field theory technique (using the full Quantum Field Theory apparatus to include also quantum corrections) to dark matter candidates with masses in the sub-GeV region. This investigation focused on fermion dark matter candidates, and we expect to extend the analysis to candidates with different spin. As described in our project, we have given significant contribution in all these areas. We apply for this grant in order to support the continuity of our research. (AU)

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