Eight-inch sensor will look for 'dark matter'

April 27, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Silicon sensor chips measuring 15cm by 10cm made by Infineon Technologies AG are to be deployed at CERN, the world's largest particle physics research center, in the hope of proving the existence of dark matter.

Dark matter is a hypothetical cosmological construct that is used to explain the behaviour of the universe. Dark matter makes up about 85 percent of the matter in the universe while dark matter and dark energy together are thought to make up 95 percent of universal matter-energy.

However, dark matter's existence has only ever been observed indirectly and there are other theories that attempt to explain discrepancies between cosmological behavior and the observed mass-energy of the universe.

CERN, the place where the Higgs boson was observed in May 2012, is now researching how it might be able to generate dark matter. This would be detected and inferred by the energies, directions of travel and ratios of particles generated by its destruction.

Infineon Technologies Austria and the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Energy Physics (HEPHY) worked together to create a silicon sensor for use in two different detectors, ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid).

Elementary particle strip sensor with a size of 15cm by 10cm in the center of the wafer (Photo: Infineon Technologies Austria AG).

Elementary particle strip sensor released from the wafer (Photo: Infineon Technologies Austria AG).

The latest sensors are more economical to produce and withstand radiation better and therefore age more solely than previous sensors. As a result they could be used in the tens of thousands at CERN in the near future, Infineon said in a statement.