An Investigation of Backgrounds in the DEAP-3600 Dark Matter Direct Detection Experiment
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Astronomical and cosmological observations reveal that the majority of the matter in our universe is made of an unknown, non-luminous substance called dark matter. Many experimental attempts are underway to directly detect particle dark matter, which is very difficult to measure due to the expected low interaction rate with normal matter. DEAP-3600 is a direct dark matter search experiment located two kilometres underground at SNOLAB, in Sudbury, Ontario. DEAP-3600 will make use of liquid argon as the detector material, which scintillates as charged particles pass through. The work presented here is an investigation of expected background sources in the DEAP detector. Because DEAP-3600 is a noble liquid-based experiment, a thin film of [1,1,4,4]-tetraphenyl-[1,3]-butadiene (TPB) is coated on the detector walls to shift the scintillation peak from the UV to visible regime for detection. However, alphas passing through TPB produce scintillation signals which can mimic recoil events. Because scintillation properties can change with temperature, we have conducted an investigation of alpha-induced TPB scintillation at temperatures ranging from 300 K to 3.4 K. We were able to characterize the light yield and decay times, and demonstrated that these background events should be distinguishable from true recoil events in liquid argon, thus enabling DEAP-3600 to achieve higher dark matter sensitivity. Additionally, we investigate the performance of the liquid argon purification systems, specifically the activated charcoal used for radon filtration. Previous measurements with the DEAP prototype experiment have demonstrated the necessity of removing radon from the argon prior to filling the detector, due to the release of contaminates from the argon storage systems. Charcoal radon filters are extremely efficient, however, if the emanation rate of the charcoal is too high, there is the possibility of re-contamination. We performed a measurement of the radon emanation rate of a charcoal sample using a radon emanation and extraction system at Queens University. We demonstrated that the emanation rate of the charcoal was consistent with zero. We also show that the number of residual radon atoms which reach the detector would not be an issue for DEAP-3600.