Detecting superlight dark matter with Fermi-degenerate materials

  • Yonit Hochberg
  • Matt Pyle
  • Yue Zhao
  • Kathryn M. Zurek
Open Access
Regular Article - Theoretical Physics


We examine in greater detail the recent proposal of using superconductors for detecting dark matter as light as the warm dark matter limit of \( \mathcal{O} \)(keV). Detection of suc light dark matter is possible if the entire kinetic energy of the dark matter is extracted in the scattering, and if the experiment is sensitive to \( \mathcal{O} \)(meV) energy depositions. This is the case for Fermi-degenerate materials in which the Fermi velocity exceeds the dark matter velocity dispersion in the Milky Way of ∼ 10−3. We focus on a concrete experimental proposal using a superconducting target with a transition edge sensor in order to detect the small energy deposits from the dark matter scatterings. Considering a wide variety of constraints, from dark matter self-interactions to the cosmic microwave background, we show that models consistent with cosmological/astrophysical and terrestrial constraints are observable with such detectors. A wider range of viable models with dark matter mass below an MeV is available if dark matter or mediator properties (such as couplings or masses) differ at BBN epoch or in stellar interiors from those in superconductors. We also show that metal targets pay a strong in-medium suppression for kinetically mixed mediators; this suppression is alleviated with insulating targets.


Beyond Standard Model Cosmology of Theories beyond the SM 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yonit Hochberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matt Pyle
    • 3
  • Yue Zhao
    • 4
  • Kathryn M. Zurek
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Theory Group, Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Berkeley Center for Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Physics DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Michigan Center for Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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