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Dr Chamkaur Ghag
High Energy Physics Group
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
Gower Street
Tel: +44 (0)207 679 3453
Fax: +44 (0)207 679 7145
  • Reader in Physics
  • Dept of Physics & Astronomy
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

I graduated from Queen Mary University of London with an MSci in Physics in 2003 before moving to the University of Edinburgh to begin a PhD. This post-graduate research was focussed on direct dark matter searches and developing low background instruments capable of recording extremely rare and small signals from particle interactions. In particular, I worked on directional gas time projection chambers and the DRIFT dark matter experiment at Boulby Mine. Following the completion of my PhD in 2006 I remained in Edinburgh but moved into the ZEPLIN programme, operating two-phase xenon detectors, also at Boulby mine, seeking to observe dark matter. I spent the next 5 years primarily on the ZEPLIN-III experiment through to the completion of the programme. Maintaing my interest in two phase noble gas time projection chambers for dark matter searches in 2011 I moved to University of California Los Angeles where I worked largely on the XENON100 experiment at Gran Sasso, Italy, as well as R&D and designs for the next generation XENON1T detector. I was also involved in R&D for the two-phase liquid argon DarkSide experiments at Gran Sasso. I joined UCL in 2012 to lead the direct dark matter search activity, continuing R&D into noble gas technology and working on the LUX and LZ experiments based at SURF, S. Dakota, USA. 

Research Groups
Research Summary

Precise cosmological measurements coupled with astronomical evidence tell us we live in a universe made up of contributions of 68% from ‘dark energy’, responsible for the accelerating expansion of the Universe, 5% baryonic ‘normal’ matter, and the remaining 27% from a ‘dark matter’ component. However, the nature of the dark elements remain unknown. My research focus is the experimental search for dark matter. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) are compelling candidates for dark matter and would be present today as the glue holding galaxies together. If these WIMPs were to collide with an atom in a detector, the energy of the recoiling nucleus could be recorded to detect the collision. However, the energy would be tiny. Moreover, this is expected to be an extremely rare process. Experimental searches must then operate detectors with very low energy thresholds, and very low background from regular radioactivity that might mask the faint dark matter signal. This means constructing some of the most sensitive and radioactively clean detectors in the world, and operating them deep underground to shield them from cosmic radiation. I work on the leading experiments currently operating, and conduct R&D for the detectors of the future. I am a member of the LUX experiment, using xenon in a two-phase time projection chamber. LUX is the world's most sensitive dark matter detector, located deep underground at SURF, S. Dakota. I am also a member of LZ, a next-generation experiment based on the same xenon technology, that will be considerably more sensitive to dark matter towards a first discovery. Finally, I am the chair of the Dark Matter UK (DMUK) Consortium.

Teaching Summary

I teach the Environmental Physics (PHAS2427) lecture course for second year undergraduate students at UCL, and the Developing Effective Communication (PHAS1901) course for first year physics and medical physics undergraduate students.

Academic Background
2014 PGCLTHE Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education – Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Institute of Education
2007 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Physics University of Edinburgh
2003 MSci Master of Natural Science – Astrophysics University of London
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