Dark Matter

Matt Kapust, courtesy of Sanford Underground Research Facility

Researchers at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead say they’ve taken a huge step forward in the quest to confirm the existence of dark matter. Late last month, they finished assembling the key piece of the LUX-ZEPLIN experiment’s xenon detector. 

Proving the existence of dark matter requires enough precision to catch two flashes of light that would be undetectable to human eyes. Scientists believe those flashes happen if a dark matter particle collides with a xenon atom.  

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Mike Headley, Executive Director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and the Lab Director at Sanford Underground Research Facility reflects on the accomplishments in 2017 and gives us a preview of what’s to come. 

We discuss the construction, the experiments, and what it takes to continue to do deep underground science when people don’t really understand what it is they’re doing.

Chris Laughery

In The Moment ... October 30, 2017 Show 209 Hour 2

It's one of the most pressing questions in science today, and the University of South Dakota is on the forefront. The research involves the search to explore and define dark matter. You can learn more at a Dark Matter Day Symposium tonight at USD.  We're joined by USD Professor Dongming Mei for more.

Amy Varland

Officials say an upgrade to the dark matter detector  at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead passed critical steps to be up and running by 2020.

Dark matter may account for a sizable chunk of the mass of the universe, but scientists still have little understanding of it.

Charles Michael Ray

Researchers on a major experiment deep in the Homestake Mine released the results of the latest run of the LUX dark matter detector on Monday December 14th.

So far, LUX has not found direct evidence of dark matter.   Researchers are hoping for tiny flashes of light inside the chamber of liquid xenon that would indicate an interaction with theoretical dark matter particles.   

But researchers say the results from this latest run of LUX are still scientifically significant. 


In honor of Neutrino Day, this week's Innovation broadcast live from a mile undergroud at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Scientists from around the country and the world gather there to investigate the mysterious building block of the universe: dark matter.  

  , and UC Berkley grad student Mia Ihm explained the LUX experiment, which uses the most sensitive dark matter detector in the world. Alan Poon and Wenqin Xu of the Majoranna Project also explained the underground construction of a new double beta decay detector.


On the eve of the 7th annual Neutrino Day, Sanford Underground Research Facility lab director Mike Headley discussed the future of the lab, which includes the next generation of dark matter research. Communications director Connie Walter also shared what visitor's can expect from Neutrino Day. Among many other attractions, the free event features the Journey Museum planetarium, tours of the underground lab and a space school musical.

Hunt For Dark Matter Not Over Yet

Oct 30, 2013

The hunt for dark matter continues.  That’s the word from researchers at the Sanford Lab.  It is home to the LUX experiment one of the on-going global efforts to directly detect dark matter.

While the initial three month run didn’t turn up any eureka moments–the knowledge gained in fine tuning and calibrating the experiment are proving valuable.   The findings help scientists hone the search.

On today’s Dakota Digest SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has the latest play by play in the global race to find dark matter.

LUX Dark Matter Experiment Results Announced

Oct 30, 2013

Physicists from the Large Underground Xenon or LUX dark matter detector are announcing the experiment's first results today. SDPB Radio's Charles Michael Ray and SDPB News Director Cara Hetland join the program to discuss what the results mean for future experiments.

Science Writer Corey Powell

Jul 25, 2013

Corey Powell, editor at large for Discover Magazine, editor in chief of American Scientist and a freelance reporter for Popular Science, talks about his job and what's fascinating about dark matter and neutrinos. Powell visited South Dakota's Sanford Underground Research Facility recently and plans to write about the experience.

Watch a video version of the Powell interview on YouTube

The Annual CETUP Conference

Jul 25, 2013

We meet three theoretical physicists who were in Deadwood for the annual CETUP conference. CETUP stands for Center for Theoretical Underground Physics and Related Areas. We meet Jason Kumar, Bhaskar Dutta and Kaladi Babu as they discuss studies related to dark matter and neutrinos. Watch the interviews on YouTube.

Majorana Experiment

Jul 12, 2013

Steve Elliott, spokesman for the Majorana experiment, joined SDPB News Director Cara Hetland a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead for Innovation.  The Majorana experiment is an ultra-low background search for neutrinoless double-beta decay.  Elliott is also a fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

LUX Takes First Laps

Jun 24, 2013

Researchers have turned on the Large Underground Xenon or LUX experiment deep in the Homestake mine.  
The LUX is on the hunt for dark matter – and it’s the biggest experiment of its type in the world.  
SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has this report on the LUX ‘s first few laps around the track in the global race to prove the existence  of Dark Matter.

LUX Dark Matter Experiment

Apr 5, 2013

Dr. Richard Gaitskell talks about the LUX Dark Matter Experiment. He's the lead researcher on the LUX Dark Matter Experiment in the Homestake Mine.