Ph.D., Universita degli Studi di Pavia, Italia, 2005
Phone: (773) 834-7659
Location: ERC 485
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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 <a target='_blank' href='http://darkside.lngs.infn.it/'>DarkSide</a> 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 <a target='_blank' href='http://xenon1t.org/'>XENON-1T</a> 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.
<span class='decor'><b>Selected Publications:</b></span>
"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)
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GRADUATE: Michael Hank (2018), Katrina Miller (2018)
UNDERGRADUATE: Thomas Wester (2017)
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