Search for composite dark matter with optically levitated sensors
In March 2019, our group suggested using high-precision optomechanical sensors to search for the minute gravitational signature of passing dark matter particles. This new paper, with our collaborators in the Moore group at Yale (campuspress.yale.edu/moorelab), presents a first experimental search for dark matter using this technique. Specifically, the Moore group used an optically levitated nanogram sphere and monitored the center of mass for small jumps, a technique sensitive enough to detect momentum deposits around 200 MeV/c.
While the gravitational detection program will require substantial improvements to sensitivity, as well as a large number of sensors working in tandem, this search demonstrates the basic principle that one can use an optomechanical device to search for dark matter which couples to the sensor through some other, stronger-than-gravitational, long-range force. This experiment is also the first demonstration of an optomechanical search for particulate dark matter.