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Condensed-matter quantum technology on the hunt for dark matter

  • Edward Laird
  • Stafford Withington
  • Alexander Millar
  • Ian Bailey

Keywords: Dark matter, Quantum technology, Quantum amplifiers

Despite its many successes, the standard model of particle physics has a number of conspicuous shortcomings. These can be resolved theoretically by introducing new particles which have yet to be detected experimentally. One of the most glaring shortcomings is the failure to explain dark matter, which outweighs the ordinary matter in the universe by a factor of five. Despite many searches, dark matter has yet to be directly detected in an experiment.

A new opportunity comes from bringing together the fields of quantum technology and low-energy particle physics. Quantum materials, ultra-sensitive detectors, and quantum-noise-limited amplifiers make it possible to search the large parameter space in which dark matter may be found in a way that would not be possible classically. The application of squeezed state detectors is particularly exciting.

Several recent advances in condensed-matter and device physics are ripe to be applied to this problem. One advance is superconducting amplifiers and qubit-based photon detectors, developed for quantum computing, which can measure microwave signals at or below the standard quantum limit. Several kinds of device are being developed and incorporated into instruments customised to search for axions.

A second advance is in new materials, which enhance the coupling between dark matter and ordinary matter. Topological antiferromagnets host excitations that are sensitive to the presence of dark matter in a mass range not easily accessible to microwave detectors. Another example is superfluid helium-3, which allows the creation of exquisitely sensitive bolometers to search for weakly interacting massive particles.

The field of quantum-enabled dark matter searches has developed very rapidly in 2020, with several newly funded large experiments in Europe (QSHS, QuestDMC, SuperGalax) as well as developments around the world.  This mini-colloquium will bring together this new research community of condensed-matter and particle physicists to apply the tools of quantum technology to one of the greatest mysteries of our universe.

Figure 1: (a) Evidence of dark matter: Gravitational lensing around the Abell 1689 cluster of galaxies

Key dates

Early registration deadline:

5 June 2022

Registration deadline:

21 July 2022


The programme is complemented by a large physics and physics instrumentation exhibition proposed by the conference’s partners. If you wish to exhibit at this conference, you can find more information here.

Jointly organised by the EPS and IOP