Reducing DRIFT backgrounds with a submicron aluminized-mylar cathode

J. B R Battat, E. Daw, A. Dorofeev, A. C. Ezeribe, J. R. Fox, J. L. Gauvreau, M. Gold, L. Harmon, J. Harton, R. Lafler, J. Landers, R. J. Lauer, E. R. Lee, D. Loomba, A. Lumnah, J. Matthews, E. H. Miller*, F. Mouton, Alex Murphy, S. M. PalingN. Phan, S. W. Sadler, A. Scarff, F. G. Schuckman, D. Snowden-Ifft, N. J C Spooner, D. Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background events in the DRIFT-IId dark matter detector, mimicking potential WIMP signals, are predominantly caused by alpha decays on the central cathode in which the alpha particle is completely or partially absorbed by the cathode material. We installed a 0.9μm thick aluminized-mylar cathode as a way to reduce the probability of producing these backgrounds. We study three generations of cathode (wire, thin-film, and radiologically clean thin-film) with a focus on the ratio of background events to alpha decays. Two independent methods of measuring the absolute alpha decay rate are used to ensure an accurate result, and agree to within 10%. Using alpha range spectroscopy, we measure the radiologically cleanest cathode version to have a contamination of 3.3±0.1 ppt <sup>234</sup>U and 73±2 ppb <sup>238</sup>U. This cathode reduces the probability of producing an RPR from an alpha decay by a factor of 70±20 compared to the original stainless steel wire cathode. First results are presented from a texturized version of the cathode, intended to be even more transparent to alpha particles. These efforts, along with other background reduction measures, have resulted in a drop in the observed background rate from 500/day to 1/day. With the recent implementation of full-volume fiducialization, these remaining background events are identified, allowing for background-free operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Dark matter
  • Radon
  • Uranium
  • WIMP


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