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Light yield determination in large sodium iodide detectors applied in the search for dark matter

AuthorsOliván, M. A.; Amaré, J.; Cebrián, S.; Cuesta, C.; García, E.; Martínez, M.; Ortigoza, Y.; Ortiz de Solorzano, A.; Pobes, Carlos; Puimedón, J.; Sarsa, M. L.; Villar, J. A.; Villar, P.
KeywordsSodium iodide
Dark matter
Light yield
Photoelectron yield
Issue Date2017
CitationAstroparticle Physics 93: 86-95 (2017)
AbstractApplication of NaI(Tl) detectors in the search for galactic dark matter particles through their elastic scattering off the target nuclei is well motivated because of the long standing DAMA/LIBRA highly significant positive result on annual modulation, still requiring confirmation. For such a goal, it is mandatory to reach very low threshold in energy (at or below the keV level), very low radioactive background (at a few counts/keV/kg/day), and high detection mass (at or above the 100 kg scale). One of the most relevant technical issues is the optimization of the crystal intrinsic scintillation light yield and the efficiency of the light collecting system for large mass crystals. In the frame of the ANAIS (Annual modulation with NaI Scintillators) dark matter search project large NaI(Tl) crystals from different providers coupled to two photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) have been tested at the Canfranc Underground Laboratory. In this paper we present the estimates of the NaI(Tl) scintillation light collected using full-absorption peaks at very low energy from external and internal sources emitting gammas/electrons, and single-photoelectron events populations selected by using very low energy pulses tails. Outstanding scintillation light collection at the level of 15 photoelectrons/keV can be reported for the final design and provider chosen for ANAIS detectors. Taking into account the quantum efficiency of the PMT units used, the intrinsic scintillation light yield in these NaI(Tl) crystals is above 40 photons/keV for energy depositions in the range from 3 up to 25 keV. This very high light output of ANAIS crystals allows triggering below 1 keV, which is very important in order to increase the sensitivity in the direct detection of dark matter.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.astropartphys.2017.06.005
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