German–French laboratory for dark matter research founded
GSI teams up with two other Helmholtz Centers and CRNRS to form the Dark Matter Lab
The French research organization CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and three research centers of the Helmholtz Association, among them GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, have joined forces to form the Dark Matter Lab (DMLab), an international research laboratory (IRL) dedicated to the study of dark matter. The DMLab is coordinated on the German side by DESY.
Dark matter is one of the greatest scientific mysteries of the universe: From astronomical observations, one knows that it accounts for about 26 percent of the total energy content of the universe and is thus about five times more abundant than normal matter. Until now, however, this mysterious substance has eluded direct detection because it interacts only extremely weak with the normal matter surrounding us.
In order to shed more light on this dark part of the universe, the CNRS has founded the DMLab together with DESY, GSI, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The aim is to strengthen collaboration between the two countries and foster the potential for discovery. “We want to bring together the partly complementary expertise and different infrastructures of the German and French sides in order to sustainably advance topics of common interest and thus also gain greater visibility internationally,” says DESY researcher Thomas Schörner, German director of the DMLab. The IRL will also support funding applications of the IRL teams to the French and German national funding agencies.
The DMLab's scientific topics include a wide variety of aspects of the search for dark matter: direct searches for dark matter particles, the development of innovative detector and accelerator technologies, and the theoretical study of dark matter. The activities also include astroparticle physics with its multi-messenger approach that includes research on gravitational waves, and scientific computing with topics such as artificial intelligence and large-data management.
Joint DMLab projects in which GSI is participating concentrate on the development of new accelerator concepts on the basis of laser driven particle acceleration, novel detectors and theoretical models.
The DMLab will initially be established for five years. Organizationally, it is a facility of the French IN2P3 (Institut National de Physique Nucleaire et de Physique des Particules) in the CNRS, which is opening another location in Germany. Ten of the existing IN2P3 sites distributed throughout France are involved in DMLab. The laboratory will enable French scientists to spend longer research stays of at least one year in Germany. With the help of the funding also pledged by DESY, GSI, and KIT, a lively exchange in both directions is expected, which will have a productive impact on all projects at DMLab.
More than thirtyfive years ago, the bilateral collaboration between IN2P3 and GSI started the mutual exchange of scientists to conduct joint research projects. The Dark Matter Lab is a unique opportunity to further deepen the collaboration between CNRS–IN2P3 and the Helmholtz research centers. (CP)