Modeling emission of acoustic energy during bubble expansion in PICO bubble chambers

T Kozynets and S Fallows and CB Krauss, PHYSICAL REVIEW D, 100, 052001 (2019).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.100.052001

The PICO experiment uses bubble chambers filled with superheated C3F8 for spin-dependent weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) dark matter searches. One of the main sources of background in these detectors is alpha particles from decays of environmental Rn-222, which nucleate bubbles that are visually indistinguishable from WIMP candidate events. Alpha-induced bubbles can be discriminated acoustically, because the signal from alpha events is consistently larger in magnitude than that from nuclear-recoil-/WIMP-like events. By studying the dynamics of bubbles nucleated by these two types of ionizing radiation from the first stages of their growth, we present a physical model for the acoustic discrimination for the first time. The distribution of acoustic energies that we generate for a simulated sample of bubble nucleations by alpha particles and nuclear recoils is compared directly to the experimental data.

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