Luca Grandi

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Universita degli Studi di Pavia, Italia, 2005
Contact Information
Phone: (773) 834-7659
Location: ERC 485
WWW: Web Site
XENON building
I have always been fascinated by fundamental physics, the kind of physics that is able to change our way of looking at the surrounding world and can provide a deeper understanding of how nature works. At the same time I have always been attracted by small scale experiments, those human-sized experiments where you can understand the entire experimental setup, in all its small details. Moreover I enjoy designing detectors, operating them and analyzing the collected data. These interests naturally brought me towards the field of rare events physics and, more specifically, toward Dark Matter direct searches. This area of research has a huge potential for discovery and the capability of providing experimental results that affect the foundation of our physics theories.

My activities, until now, have been focused on the development of two-phase noble liquids Time Projection Chamber (TPC) technology for Dark Matter direct detection. During my Ph.D. I was involved in the design, construction and operation of the WArP-2.3kg prototype, the first argon detector to have set a limit on the WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) interaction rate.

From 2008 to 2015, I have worked on the DarkSide project, of which I am a co-founder. DarkSide combines argon two-phase and liquid scintillator technology: the use of depleted argon as a target in a two-phase argon TPC, coupled with a powerful neutron veto based on the Borexino experiment results in a unique detector for Dark Matter search, sensitive to extremely rare and low-energy nuclear recoils possibly induced by WIMPs and capable of achieving background-free conditions. DarkSide-50, the first physics detector of the DarkSide family, has been deployed at Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory in Italy during the last quarter of 2014. The detector has been used to demonstrate the performance and background suppression capabilities of argon and set a competitive limit on dark matter properties. The DarkSide-50 experiment has set a solid foundation for the possible extension of argon technology to future multi-ton scale detectors.

In 2015 I joined the XENON-1T project. The experiment features a 3500kg liquid xenon detector surrounded by a large water tank to suppress the background. The two-phase xenon TPC is presently under construction and its commissioning at Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory is scheduled for the last quarter of 2015. The XENON-1T experiment, thanks to its design, large fiducial mass, and increased sensitivity to WIMPs, will probe properties of dark matter in yet unexplored regions and will “open” a second phase of dark matter searches with multi-ton noble liquid detectors. University of Chicago contributions to the XENON program span from activities related to the assembly and preparation of the TPC detector, to simulations and data analysis. The group is managing the US data-processing/analysis hub, hosted by the UChicago Research Computing Center. The activity of the group within XENON-1T is also complemented by the operation of small noble liquid detectors in our laboratory at the university, which we use to test new ideas and perform measurements that will inform the analysis and interpretation of ongoing dark matter searches.

Selected Publications:
"First Results from the DarkSide-50 Dark Matter Experiment at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso", Phys.Lett. B743 (2015) 456-466.

"Measurement of Scintillation and Ionization Yield and Scintillation Pulse Shape from Nuclear Recoils in Liquid Argon", Phys.Rev. D91 (2015) 092007.

"Observation of the dependence on drift field of scintillation from nuclear recoils in liquid argon", Phys.Rev. D88 (2013) 9, 092006.

"Light yield in DarkSide-10: A prototype two-phase argon TPC for dark matter searches", Astropart.Phys. 49 (2013) 44-51.

"Precision measurement of the 7Be solar neutrino interaction rate in Borexino", Phys.Rev.Lett. 107 (2011) 141302.

"Effects of Nitrogen and Oxygen contamination in liquid Argon", Nucl.Phys.Proc.Suppl. 197 (2009) 70-73.

"First results from a Dark Matter search with liquid Argon at 87 K in the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory", Astropart.Phys. 28 (2008) 495-507.

"Discovery of underground argon with low level of radioactive 39Ar and possible applications to WIMP dark matter detectors", Nucl.Instrum.Meth. A587 (2008) 46-51.

"Measurement of the specific activity of 39Ar in natural argon", Nucl.Instrum.Meth. A574 (2007) 83-88.

Ongoing Scientific Projects:

Past Scientific Projects: Depleted Argon cryogenic Scintillation and Ionization Detection (DarkSide)

Currently in Committees
  • Fellowship committee
  • Wednesday Colloquium committee
  • Conferences, Workshops and Visitors committee

KICP Publications
2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Latest Journal Publications
  1. "DARWIN: towards the ultimate dark matter detector", Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Issue 11, article id. 017 (2016) (Nov 2016)
  2. "Model Independent Approach to the Single Photoelectron Calibration of Photomultiplier Tubes", arXiv:1602.03150 (Feb 2016)
  3. "Results from the first use of low radioactivity argon in a dark matter search", arXiv:1510.00702 (Oct 2015)
  4. "First results from the DarkSide-50 dark matter experiment at Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso", Physics Letters B, Volume 743, p. 456-466 (Apr 2015)
  5. "The Electronics and Data Acquisition System of the DarkSide Dark Matter Search", arXiv:1412.2969 (Dec 2014)
  6. "Final results of Borexino Phase-I on low-energy solar neutrino spectroscopy", Physical Review D, Volume 89, Issue 11, id.112007 (Jun 2014)
  7. "Observation of the dependence on drift field of scintillation from nuclear recoils in liquid argon", Physical Review D, vol. 88, Issue 9, id. 092006 (Nov 2013)
  8. "Light yield in DarkSide-10: A prototype two-phase argon TPC for dark matter searches", Astroparticle Physics, Volume 49, p. 44-51 (Sep 2013)
  9. "Cosmogenic Backgrounds in Borexino at 3800 m water-equivalent depth", Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, Issue 08, article id. 049, (2013) (Aug 2013)
  10. "Measurement of geo-neutrinos from 1353 days of Borexino", Physics Letters B, Volume 722, Issue 4-5, p. 295-300 (May 2013)
  11. "High precision 7Be solar neutrinos measurement and day night effect obtained with Borexino", Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, Volume 692, p. 258-261 (Nov 2012)
  12. "Measurement of CNGS muon neutrino speed with Borexino", Physics Letters B, Volume 716, Issue 3-5, p. 401-405 (Oct 2012)

Latest Conference Proceedings
  1. "The DarkSide Program", Roma International Conference on Astroparticle Physics 2014 (RICAP-14), Noto, Italy, Edited by P. Piattelli; A. Capone; R. Coniglione; G. De Bonis; M. De Vincenzi; C. Distefano; A. Morselli; P. Sapienza; EPJ Web of Conferences, Volume 121, id.06010 (Jul 2
  2. "The DarkSide-50 outer detectors", Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 718, Issue 4, article id. 042062 (2016) (May 2016)
  3. "The DarkSide awakens", Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 718, Issue 4, article id. 042016 (2016) (May 2016)
  4. "Measurement of Scintillation Efficiency of Low Energy Nuclear Recoils in Liquid Argon", American Physical Society, APS April Meeting 2013, April 13-16, 2013, abstract #T12.002 (Apr 2013)

Past Visitors:
  1. Luke Goetzke, Columbia University (2016)
  2. Ashlea Monti, King College Prep HS (2016)
  3. Nora Wengerski, King College Prep (2016)
  4. Aprile Elena, University of Columbia (2015)
  5. Montuschi Michele, INFN - Ferrara (Italy) (2015)
  6. Daniel Akerib, Case Western Reserve University (2014)
  7. Daniel Akerib, SLAC (2014)
  8. Michael Foxe, Pacific Northwest National Lab (2014)
  9. Guangyong Koh, Princeton University (2014)