Unlocking the secrets of the universe
What is our universe made of and why has it evolved into what we can observe today?
Those are some of the questions that can be answered by searching for extremely rare particle interactions to further our understanding of the fundamental nature of particle physics and astrophysics.
In fact, an important theme in modern physics is the fascinating linkage between science at the largest conceivable scale—the universe—and at the smallest accessible scale—the properties of the fundamental constituents of nature. Mark Boulay’s research is at the heart of this linkage.
The Standard Model of particle physics is a highly successful model that describes the fundamental particles and how they interact, but it doesn’t give the complete picture.
It doesn’t explain the observation that dark matter, seen through its effect on large scale structures in the universe but not directly visible, far outweighs normal matter by five-to-one. Direct evidence of dark matter particles, so far unobserved, can shed light on the nature of the dark matter, and would require extensions to the standard model of particle physics.
The search for an equally rare process known as neutrinoless double beta decay could explain another cosmological mystery – why the universe started in the Big Bang in a state of pure energy and yet, after countless cycles of creations of particles and anti-particles in pairs, followed by annihilation of matter with antimatter, we were left with a universe containing only matter.
Boulay’s research will focus on extending experimental techniques and developing new detectors using liquefied noble gases to search for the extremely rare signatures of dark matter particles and neutrinoless double beta decay, attempting to answer some of the most important questions in physics.