Nuclear Aspects of Dark Matter Searches

A plethora of disparate cosmological observations have established the existence of a non-baryonic component to matter, called dark matter. The origin and nature of this dark matter, which makes up 25.8 ± 0.4% of the energy composition of the Universe (Plank experiment, 2013), remains a mystery as there is no candidate in the Standard Model of particle physics that has the properties of being stable over the lifetime of the universe, void of net electroweak charges, and could explain the observed dark matter densities that are roughly five times that of baryonic matter.

For this reason, roughly two dozen dedicated dark matter experiments are currently under development or actively taking data, along with several dozen cosmological experiments exploring cosmic rays and high-energy neutrinos that can yield dark matter signals in their results. However, for all of these experiments, nuclear and astrophysics play a crucial role in the feasibility of discovery in these experiments.

The goal of this workshop is to explore, discuss, and debate the current state-of-the-art methods for determining nuclear backgrounds and enhancements/suppressions in dark matter experiments and clarify if better methods exist or could be derived. This workshop will produce a concrete plan of theoretical needs and future calculations to better interpret results from future dark matter experiments. This requires exploring several topics spanning multiple fields of nuclear and particle physics.