Passive Low-Energy Nuclear-Recoil Detection with Color Centers

BK Cogswell and A Goel and P Huber, PHYSICAL REVIEW APPLIED, 16, 064060 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.16.064060

Crystal-damage events such as tracks and point defects have been used to record and detect radiation for a long time and recently they have been proposed as a means for dark-matter detection. Color centers can be read out optically and we propose a scheme based on selective plane illumination microscopy for micrometer-scale imaging of large volumes corresponding to kilogram mass detectors. This class of detectors would be passive and would operate at room temperature and we call this the passive lowenergy optical color-center nuclear-recoil (PALEOCCENE) detection method. We apply these concepts to the detection of reactor neutrinos using coherent elastic neutrino nucleus scattering (CEvNS). Crystaldamage formation energies are intrinsically on the order of 25 eV, resulting in similarly low nuclear-recoil thresholds. This would enable the observation of reactor-neutrino CEvNS with detectors as small as 10 g. Additionally, a competitive search for spin-dependent dark- matter scattering down to a dark-matter mass of 0.3 GeV could be possible. Passive crystal detectors might also be attractive for nuclear-nonproliferation safeguards if used to monitor reactor power and to put limits on plutonium production. The passive nature and small footprint of the proposed detectors implies that these might fit well within accepted reactorsafeguards operations.

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