School and Workshop on Dark Matter and Neutrino Detection

July 23 – August 3, 2018

São Paulo, Brazil




The fields of Dark Matter and Neutrino Physics have experienced a tremendous growth in interest recently and face many theoretical and experimental challenges. These two fields are deeply interconnected in many aspects, including the detection techniques. Neutrinos are an unavoidable background for Dark Matter detection and upcoming experiments will soon reach the so-called neutrino floor. On the other hand, sterile neutrinos are competitive Dark Matter candidates. Neutrinos provide a fertile ground to search for particle physics beyond the Standard Model, which could include a Dark Matter particle.

Despite their growing importance, in general, the physics students in South America and other countries are little exposed to these topics. The aim of the school is to introduce the students to the fields of particle Dark Matter and Neutrinos, share the excitement on model building and experiments, and prepare the new generations to contribute to this endeavor. The courses will provide a broad overview on the phenomenology and outstanding questions in these two fields and the detection methods that may shed light on these issues in the future.

The first week of the school  will be composed of theoretical courses and lectures, with time for discussion and practical activities. The second week will focus on detection methods and specific experiments, comprising courses and lectures, and with most of the afternoon dedicated to experimental work in small groups.

There is no registration fee and limited funds are available for travel and local expenses.

This activity will be followed by a workshop on the Agua Negra Deep Experiment Site (ANDES), a proposed facility in South America that could host both Dark Matter and neutrino experiments.

Local Organizing Committee:

  • Carla Bonifazi (IF-UFRJ, co-chair)
  • Edivaldo Moura Santos (USP)
  • Fabio Iocco (ICTP-SAIFR/IFT-UNESP)
  • Ricardo Gomes (UFG)
  • Martin Makler (CBPF, chair)

International Advisory Board:

  • Xavier Bertou (CAB, Argentina)
  • Osvaldo Civitarese (UNLP, Argentina)
  • Claudio Dib (USM, Chile)
  • Juan Estrada (Fermilab, USA)
  • Mayda Velasco (Northwestern/COFI, USA)

Courses, Seminars & Experiments


  • Neutrinos: Andre de Gouvea (Northwestern Univ., USA)
  • Dark Matter: Fabio Iocco (ICTP-SAIFR/IFT-UNESP, Brazil) & Farinaldo Queiroz (II-P Natal/ICTP-SAIFR visitor fellow, Brazil)
  • Neutrino Detection: Stefan Soldner-Rembolt (Manchester U., UK )
  • Dark Matter Detection: Enectali Figueroa-Feliciano (Northwestern Univ., USA)


  • Dark Matter in colliders: Eduardo Pontón (ICTP-SAIFR/IFT-UNESP, Brazil)
  • Sterile neutrinos: Orlando Peres (UNICAMP, Brazil)
  • Neutrinos in Astrophysics: Pedro de Holanda (UNICAMP, Brazil)
  • Non standard neutrinos: Pedro de Holanda (UNICAMP, Brazil)
  • CCD detection techniques for dark matter and neutrinos: Javier Tiffenberg (FERMILAB, USA)
  • TPC detection techniques for neutrinos and dark matter: Ettore Segreto (UNICAMP, Brazil)
  • Coherent neutrinos: Juan Estrada (FERMILAB, USA)
  • The ANDES Underground Laboratory: Xavier Bertou (CAB/CNEA, Argentina)
  • Neutrinos in Cosmology: TBC*
  • Axion Dark Matter Search: Andrew Sonnenschein (FERMILAB, USA)

*to be confirmed

Confirmed experiments:
  • Characterization of Gamma background with inorganic scintillators: Federico Izraelevitch (Instituto Dan Beninson/UNSAM/CNEA – CONICET, Argentina)
  • EL TPCito – Illustration of Time Projection Chamber: Franciole Marinho (UFSCAr, Brazil), Laura Paulucci (UFABC, Brazil), Gustavo Valdiviesso (UFA, Brazil)
  • Particle detection with CCDs: Guillermo Moroni, Javier Tiffenberg, Juan Estrada (Fermilab, USA), Aldo Rosado Fernandes (CEFET/RJ, Brazil)
  • Cosmic ray detection through their Extensive Air Shower: the original Pierre Auger measurement: Xavier Bertou (CAB/CONICET, Argentina)
  • SiPM: a novel photon detector becoming a classic: Horacio Arnaldi (CAB/CNEA, Argentina)
  • ARAPUCA effect: trapping light inside a reflective box: Ana Amelia Machado (UFABC, Brazil) & Ettore Segreto (UNICAMP, Brazil)
  • High-speed data acquisition and optimal filtering based on programmable logic for single-photoelectron (SPE) measurement setup: Herman Pessoa Lima Júnior (CBPF, Brazil) & Rafael Antunes Nobrega (UFJF, Brazil)
  • Proof of principle of a Neutrino mass measurement: Kazu Akiba & Victor Gollo (Instituto de Física – UFRJ, Brazil)
  • Measurement of the muon decay time: Gaston Gutierrez (Fermilab, USA), Irina Nasteva (IF/UFRJ, Brazil) & Carla Bonifazi (IF/UFRJ, Brazil)
  • Analysis of Fermi LAT gamma-ray observations: Rodrigo Nemmen (IAG-USP, Brazil)

Description of Experiments

Characterization of gamma background with inorganic scintillators
Federico Izraelevitch (Instituto Dan Beninson/UNSAM/CNEA – CONICET, Argentina)
In this laboratory students will work with a sodium iodide detector coupled to a PMT to measure the environmental gamma background. Groups of two or three students will characterize the detector and study its performance, like efficiency, linearity and resolution. They will quantify the gamma background present in the lab in the way it is done in a rare event search experiment.

EL TPCito Illustration of Time Projection Chamber
Franciole Marinho (Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil), Laura Paulucci (Universidade Federal do ABC, Brazil) & Gustavo Valdiviesso (Universidade Federal de Alfenas, Brazil)
When a particle enters a time projection chamber (TPC) volume it may interact with the fluid it holds exciting and ionizing the matter. Electrons can therefore be collected by applying high electromagnetic fields in this volume. This technique is commonly used for rare events detection due to its good charged particles trajectory reconstruction and calorimetry performance. Scintillation light can also be detected. In this laboratory students will operate a small TPC with a coupled photomultiplier tube (PMT) to detect light from the interaction of alpha particles in a gaseous argon/nitrogen mixture. Groups of 2-3 students will analyze the initial ionization signal as well as the electroluminescence (EL) one in order to characterize the electron drift as a function of the variables of the system (cathode/anode voltages, argon/nitrogen mixture).

Particle detection with CCDs
Guillermo Moroni, Javier Tiffenberg, Juan Estrada (Fermilab, USA), Aldo Rosado Fernandes (CEFET/RJ, Brazil)
In this Lab the students will learn how to use scientific CCDs as particle detectors. They will explore the signals produced by the readout electronics to understand the basic ideas of the signal processing involved. The participants will interact with a fully working system that will allow them to observe cosmic ray interactions and identify the traces produced by different particles. They will then use data taken using an x-ray source to calibrate the sensors in energy. The students will then use this information to produce selection criteria for cosmic muon tracks anduse these events to measure the energy loss of Minimum Ionizing Particles in silicon.

Cosmic ray detection through their Extensive Air Shower: the original Pierre Auger measurement
Xavier Bertou (CAB/CONICET, Argentina)
In 1938 Pierre Auger reported the first observation of EAS by looking at coincidences of particle detectors separated by up to 20m and estimated the primary energy to be above 10^12 eV. In this laboratory practice we will repeat part of the Auger measurement by using 4 scintillator detectors in coincidence, looking at the rate variation as a function of the distance between them and estimating the particle density in an EAS by using a central detector in a triangle of detectors. The results will be interpreted in terms of particle cascade in the atmosphere and an estimation of the primary particle energy will be done. As cosmic rays are one of the main backgrounds of underground experiments, an estimation of the overburden needed to shield an experiment will be done, based on the inferred primary energy.

SiPM: a novel photon detector becoming a classic
Horacio Arnaldi (CAB/CNEA, Argentina)
The silicon photomultiplier, also named multi-pixel photon counter, is a solid state device composed of numerous diodes operating in Geiger avalanche mode. It is a novel device, introduced and improved notably in the last 10 years, and has excellent single photon counting capabilities, but still presents some strong temperature dependence. In this laboratory practice, different SiPM will be operated and their temperature response characterized, by measuring gain, noise level, and crosstalk. While there are many areas of application of SiPM in Dark Matter and Neutrino physics experiments, we will focus on a biochemistry use of the sensor, by measuring light emitted by Luciferin (from fireflies for example), used as a tracer in many biological activity measurements.

ARAPUCA effect: trapping light inside a reflective box
Ana Amelia Machado (UFABC, Brazil) & Ettore Segreto (UNICAMP, Brazil)
We will mount an experimental set-up which will allow to measure the trapping effect of an ARAPUCA.The ARAPUCA is a reflective box with an acceptance window made of a dichroic filter coated with two different wavelength shifters, one per each side. An opportune choice of the shifters can make the acceptance window transparent to light only in one direction: the light which enters in the box is not able to exit and it is trapped inside the box. A semiconductor photosensitive device is installed on the internal surface of the box and can detect the trapped light. It will be shown that a normal glass window does not produce any kind of trapping and that the ARAPUCA window produces a significant increase in the amount of detected light.

High-speed data acquisition and optimal filtering based on programmable logic for single-photoelectron (SPE) measurement setup 
Herman Pessoa Lima Júnior (CBPF, Brazil) & Rafael Antunes Nobrega (UFJF, Brazil)
The students will have a short introduction on how to design and synthesize a digital circuit inside an FPGA device, learn about a digital filter used to optimize detection efficiency and understand how and why it is important to evaluate the Single Photoelectron (SPE) spectrum of a Photomultiplier Tube (PMT). Groups of 2 or 3 students will operate a setup with an 8” PMT to measure and compare the SPE spectrum built with and without the optimal filter.

Proof of principle of a Neutrino mass measurement
Kazu Akiba & Victor Gollo (Instituto de Física – UFRJ, Brazil)
The most precise method to measure the neutrino mass relies in the knowledge of nuclear decays and the precise measurement of the energy of beta-rays (electrons) coming from a proton decay. This energy is maximal when the neutrino remains at rest  and different from the massless neutrino hypothesis. In this lab exercise we attempt to make a measurement of the end point energy of electrons from a Sr90 source with a magnetic field and a position sensitive silicon pixelated sensor, connected to a Timepix . We will discuss what values are important to be controlled in order to minimise the uncertainties and attempt a real time measurement.

Measurement of the muon decay time
Gaston Gutierrez (Fermilab, USA), Irina Nasteva (IF/UFRJ, Brazil) & Carla Bonifazi (IF/UFRJ, Brazil) 

Analysis of Fermi LAT gamma-ray observations
Rodrigo Nemmen (IAG-USP, Brazil)
The Fermi Gamma-ray Observatory has revolutionized our understanding of the high-energy universe. Over the last 10 years, the Fermi Large Area Telescope has been observing the entire sky from space every three hours in the 100 MeV to 500 GeV energy range. In this lab activity, I will give a short presentation highlighting the main results and importance of the Fermi Telescope—particularly for dark matter indirect searches. The talk will be followed by a hands-on tutorial where the students will get familiar with the analysis of space-based gamma-ray observations.



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