Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Direct Dark Matter Search with the MAJORANA Low-Background Broad Energy Germanium Detector

It is well established that a significant portion of our Universe is comprised of invisible, non-luminous matter, commonly referred to as dark matter. The detection and characterization of this missing matter is an active area of research in cosmology and particle astrophysics. A general class of candidates for non-baryonic particle dark matter is weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs emerge naturally from supersymmetry with predicted masses between 1-1000 GeV. There are many current and near-future experiments that may shed light on the nature of dark matter by directly detecting WIMP-nucleus scattering events. The MAJORANA experiment will use p-type point contact (PPC) germanium detectors as both the source and detector to search for neutrinoless double-beta decay in 76Ge. These detectors have both exceptional energy resolution and low-energy thresholds. The low-energy performance of PPC detectors, due to their low-capacitance point-contact design, makes them suitable for direct dark matter searches. As a part of the research and development efforts for the MAJORANA experiment, a custom Canberra PPC detector has been deployed at the Kimballton Underground Research Facility in Ripplemead, Virginia. This detector has been used to perform a search for low-mass (< 10 GeV) WIMP induced nuclear recoils using a 221.49 live-day exposure. It was found that events originating near the surface of the detector plague the signal region, even after all cuts. For this reason, only an upper limit on WIMP induced nuclear recoils was placed. This limit is inconsistent with several recent claims to have observed light WIMP based dark matter.