IUSB Team Gets Grant For Dark Matter Research

Sep 18, 2018


Rear Left to Right: Brendan Tubbs, science teacher, Adams HS; Aaron Roeder, IUSB grad, now an engineering PhD student at U. Notre Dame; Levi Klopfenstein, IUSB physics major; David Giger, now engineering major at U. Notre Dame; Paige Oedekerk, IUSB grad and now a researcher at Whirlpool corporation. Front Left to Right: Ed Behnke, engineer; Kelly Allen, Elkhart HS now a freshman physics major, IUSB; Prof. Levine; Nathan Walkowski, IUSB Physics Major.Credit Paige Oedekerk / IUSBEdit | Remove

A group of researchers at Indiana University South Bend have received a grant to work on a project that aims to detect small amounts of dark matter.


The team is working on a detection device called a bubble chamber. Dark matter makes up roughly 85 percent of our universe and can’t be detected with electromagnetism the way other particles can. Scientists know it's in the universe by the effect it has on other objects in space.

One way researchers are trying to detect and study it uses a chamber full of superheated liquid to detect the bubbles made when dark matter collides with the nucleus of an atom.

The bubbles made by this reaction are similar to bubbles made by radiation...but they sound different, they're deeper in pitch.

The team at IUSB is building the sound sensors that listen to the bubbles. Dr. Ilan Levine is the physicist heading the research at IUSB.

“And that sends a signal out to the data acquisition system and by looking at that sound signal we can tell on an event by event basis ‘ah, that could be dark matter, ah, that’s not dark matter.”

They’re also making the pressure sensors to detect how many bubbles are made in an event and temperature sensors for the system.

IUSB received a grant for more than $700,000 from the National Science Foundation to fund the work. Other institutions are making other components of the chamber.


It will all go together and be tested in an underground lab in Northern Ontario, Canada. The bubble chamber will hopefully help the researchers learn more about the nature of dark matter and our universe.