First Light!

After many years of preparation, the installation of the NEWS-G experiment was finally completed in early August 2021. 

The NEWS-G experiment in the Cube Hall at SNOLAB. The detector (nicknamed SNOGLOBE) is a 1.4m diameter copper sphere. It is enclosed in a shield of 25cm of lead and 40cm of high-density polyethylene, surrounded by stainless steel sheets for fire protection.

The achinos sensor was installed on August 4th, using a glove box under nitrogen atmosphere. This process prevents contamination of the detector’s copper vessel with the radioactive radon in the mine’s air. 

The glove box and sensor insertion system on the roof of the NEWS-G experiment.

The achinos sensor, made of a 3D printed structure covered with resistive Diamond Like Carbon (DLC), and equipped with 11 sensor balls of 1.7mm diameter.

On August 10th, the detector was filled with an argon gas mixture for testing. The very first signal using this detector at SNOLAB was observed. Argon is naturally radioactive, so it will produce a signal in the detector a few times per minute. This is however too much background to be used for dark matter search. 

The data acquisition display, showing one of the first pulses observed with the NEWS-G detector at SNOLAB.

A lot of work remains to characterize and optimize the performance of the detector, before filling it. It will then be filled with gas mixtures of neon and helium, which will provide the best sensitivity to low mass dark matter. 

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