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Scientific Publications

Search for Light Dark Matter with Ionization Signals in the PandaX-4T Experiment

Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol.130, 261001 (2023)

We report the search results of light dark matter through its interactions with shell electrons and nuclei, using the commissioning data from the PandaX-4T liquid xenon detector. Low energy events are selected to have an ionization-only signal between 60 to 200 photoelectrons, corresponding to a mean nuclear recoil energy from 0.77 to 2.54 $keV$ and electronic recoil energy from 0.07 to 0.23 $keV$. With an effective exposure of 0.55 tonne · year, we set the most stringent limits within a mass range from 40 $MeV/c^2$ to 10 $GeV/c^2$ for pointlike dark matter-electron interaction, 100 $MeV/c^2$ to 10 $GeV/c^2$ for dark matter-electron interaction via a light mediator, and 3.2 to 4 $GeV/c^2$ for dark matter-nucleon spin-independent interaction. For DM interaction with electrons, our limits are closing in on the parameter space predicted by the freeze-in and freeze-out mechanisms in the early Universe.


Limits on the luminance of dark matter from xenon recoil data


It is commonly conjectured that dark matter is a charge neutral fundamental particle. However, it may still have minute photon-mediated interactions through millicharge or higher-order multipole interactions, resulting from new physics at a high energy scale. Here we report a direct search for effective electromagnetic interactions between dark matter and xenon nuclei that produce a recoil of the latter from the PandaX-4T xenon-based detector. Using this technique, the first constraint on the charge radius of dark matter is derived with the lowest excluded value of $1.9 \times 10^{-10} fm^{2}$ for a dark matter mass of 40 giga electron volts per speed of light in a vaccum ($GeV / c^{2}$) more stringent than that for neutrinos by four orders of magnitude. Constraints on the magnitudes of millicharge, magnetic dipole moment, electric dipole moment and anapole moment are also improved substantially from previous searches, with corresponding tightest upper limits of $2.6 \times 10^{-11}e$, $4.8 \times 10^{-10}$ Bohr magnetons, $1.2 \times 10^{-23}$ ecm and $1.6 \times 10 ^{-33} cm^{2}$, respectively, for a dark matter mass of 20–40 $GeV / c^{2}$.


Search for Solar 8^B Neutrinos in the PandaX-4T Experiment Using Neutrino-Nucleus Coherent Scattering

Phys. Rev. Lett., Vol.130, 021802(2023)

A search for interactions from solar $^8B$ neutrinos elastically scattering off xenon nuclei using PandaX-4T commissioning data is reported. The energy threshold of this search is further lowered compared with the previous search for dark matter, with various techniques utilized to suppress the background that emerges from data with the lowered threshold. A blind analysis is performed on the data with an effective exposure of 0.48 tonne year, and no significant excess of events is observed. Among the results obtained using the neutrino-nucleus coherent scattering, our results give the best constraint on the solar $^8B$ neutrino flux. We further provide a more stringent limit on the cross section between dark matter and nucleon in the mass range from 3 to 9 $GeV/c^2$.


Measurement of double beta decay half-life of 136Xe with the PandaX-4T detector


Precise measurement of two-neutrino double beta decay (DBD) half-life is an important step for the searches of Majorana neutrinos with neutrinoless double-beta decay. We report the measurement of DBD half-life of ${}^{136}Xe$ using the PandaX-4T dual-phase Time Projection Chamber (TPC) with 3.7-tonne natural xenon and the first 94.9-day physics data release. The background model in the fiducial volume is well constrained in situ by events in the outer active region. With a ${}^{136}Xe$ exposure of 15.5 kg-year, we establish the half-life as 2.27±0.03(stat.)±0.10(syst.) $\times 10^{21}$ year. This is the first DBD half-life measurement with natural xenon and demonstrates the physics capability of a large-scale liquid xenon TPC in the field of rare event searches.


First search for the absorption of fermionic dark matter with the PandaX-4T experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.129, 161803(2022)

Compared to the signature of dark matter elastic scattering off nuclei, absorption of fermionic dark matter by nuclei opens up a new searching channel for light dark matter with a characteristic mono-energetic signal. In this letter, we explore the 95.0-day data from PandaX-4T commissioning run and report the first dedicated searching results of the fermionic dark matter absorption signal through neutral current process. No significant signal was found and the lowest limit on the dark matter-nucleon interaction cross section is set to be $ 1.5 \times 10^{-50} cm^{2} $ for a fermionic dark matter mass of $40 MeV / c^{2}$ with 90% confidence level.


Search for light fermionic dark matter absorption on electrons in PandaX-4T

Physical Review Letters, Vol.129, 161804(2022)

We report a search on sub-MeV fermionic dark matter absorbed by electrons with an outgoing active neutrino using the $0.63$ tonne year exposure collected by the PandaX-4T liquid xenon experiment. No significant signals are observed over the expected background. The data are interpreted into limits to the effective couplings between such dark matter and the electron. For axial-vector or vector interactions, our sensitivity is competitive in comparison to existing astrophysical bounds on the decay of such a dark matter candidate into photon final states. In particular, we present the first direct detection limits for a vector (axial-vector) interaction which are the strongest in the mass range from $35$ to $55$ ($25$ to $45$) $keV/c^2$ in comparison to other astrophysical and cosmological constraints.


Constraints on the axial-vector and pseudo-scalar mediated WIMP-nucleus interactions from PandaX-4T experiment

Physics Letters B(2022)

We present the constraints on the axial-vector and pseudo-scalar mediated WIMP-nucleus interactions from the PandaX-4T experiment, using the data set corresponding to a total exposure of 0.63 tonne⋅year. No significant signal excess is observed, and the most stringent upper limits to date on the spin-dependent WIMP-neutron scattering cross section are set at 90% confidence level with the minimum WIMP-neutron scattering cross section of $5.8\times 10^{-42}cm^{2}$ for WIMP mass of 40 $GeV/c^{2}$. Exclusion limits on the axial-vector and pseudo-scalar simplified models are also derived.


A search for two-component Majorana dark matter in a simplified model using the full exposure data of PandaX-II experiment

Physics Letters B, Vol.832, 137254(2022)

In the two-component Majorana dark matter model, one dark matter particle can scatter off the target nuclei, and turn into a slightly heavier component. In the framework of a simplified model with a vector boson mediator, both the tree-level and loop-level processes contribute to the signal in direct detection experiment. In this paper, we report the search results for such dark matter from PandaX-II experiment, using total data of the full 100.7 tonne⋅day exposure. No significant excess is observed, so strong constraints on the combined parameter space of mediator mass and dark matter mass are derived. With the complementary search results from collider experiments, a large range of parameter space can be excluded.


Study of background from accidental coincidence signals in the PandaX-II experiment

Chinese Physics C, Vol.46, 103001(2022)

Study of background from accidental coincidence signals in the PandaX-II experiment

DOI: 10.1088/1674-1137/ac7cd8

Neutron-induced nuclear recoil background in the PandaX-4T experiment

Chinese Physics C(2022)

Neutron-induced nuclear recoil background is critical to the dark matter searches in the PandaX-4T liquid xenon experiment. This paper studies the feature of neutron background in liquid xenon and evaluates their contribution in the single scattering nuclear recoil events through three methods. The first method is fully Monte Carlo simulation based. The last two are data-driven methods that also use the multiple scattering signals and high energy signals in the data, respectively. In the PandaX-4T commissioning data with an exposure of 0.63 tonne⋅year, all these methods give a consistent result that there are 1.15±0.57 neutron-induced background in dark matter signal region within an approximated nuclear recoil energy window between 5 and 100 keV.


Search for Cosmic-Ray Boosted Sub-GeV Dark Matter at the PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.128, 171801(2022)

We report a novel search for the cosmic-ray boosted dark matter using the 100 tonne · day full dataset of the PandaX-II detector located at the China Jinping Underground Laboratory. With the extra energy gained from the cosmic rays, sub-GeV dark matter particles can produce visible recoil signals in the detector. The diurnal modulations in rate and energy spectrum are utilized to further enhance the signal sensitivity. Our result excludes the dark matter–nucleon elastic scattering cross section between 10−31 and 10−28 cm2 for dark matter masses from 0.1 MeV/c2 to 0.1 GeV/c2, with a large parameter space previously unexplored by experimental collaborations.


Dark Matter Search Results from the PandaX-4T Commissioning Run

Physical Review Letters, Vol.127(2021)

We report the first dark matter search results using the commissioning data from PandaX-4T. Using a time projection chamber with 3.7-tonne of liquid xenon target and an exposure of 0.63~tonne⋅year, 1058 candidate events are identified within an approximate electron equivalent energy window between 1 and 30 $keV$. No significant excess over background is observed. Our data set a stringent limit to the dark matter-nucleon spin-independent interactions, with a lowest excluded cross section (90% C.L.) of $3.3 \times 10^{−47}cm^2$ at a dark matter mass of 30 $GeV/c^2$.


Constraining self-interacting dark matter with the full dataset of PandaX-II

SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, Vol.64, 111062(2021)

Self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) is a leading candidate proposed to solve discrepancies between predictions of the prevailing cold dark matter theory and observations of galaxies. Many SIDM models predict the existence of a light force carrier that mediates strong dark matter self-interactions. If the mediator couples to the standard model particles, it could produce characteristic signals in dark matter direct detection experiments. We report searches for signals of SIDM models with a light mediator using the full dataset of the PandaX-II experiment, basing on a total exposure of 132 tonne-days. No significant excess over background is found, and our likelihood analysis leads to a strong upper limit on the dark matter-nucleon coupling strength. We further combine the PandaX-II constraints and those from observations of the light element abundances in the early universe, and show that direct detection and cosmological probes can provide complementary constraints on dark matter models with a light mediator.


Search for Light Dark Matter-Electron Scatterings in the PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.126, 211803 (2021)

We report constraints on light dark matter through its interactions with shell electrons in the PandaX-II liquid xenon detector with a total 46.9 tonnes⋅day exposure. To effectively search for these very low energy electron recoils, ionization-only signals are selected from the data. 1821 candidates are identified within an ionization signal range between 50 and 75 photoelectrons, corresponding to a mean electronic recoil energy from 0.08 to 0.15 $keV$. The 90% C.L. exclusion limit on the scattering cross section between the dark matter and electron is calculated with systematic uncertainties properly taken into account. Under the assumption of point interaction, we provide the world’s most stringent limit within the dark matter mass range from 15 to 30 $MeV/c^2$, with the corresponding cross section from $2.5 \times 10^{-37}$ to $3.1 \times 10^{−38} cm^2$.


Determination of responses of liquid xenon to low energy electron and nuclear recoils using the PandaX-II detector

Chinese Physics C(2021)

We report a systematic determination of the responses of PandaX-II, a dual phase xenon time projection chamber detector, to low energy recoils. The electron recoil (ER) and nuclear recoil (NR) responses are calibrated, respectively, with injected tritiated methane or ${}^{220}Rn$ source, and with ${}^{241}Am-Be$ neutron source, within an energy range from 1-25 keV (ER) and 4-80 keV (NR), under the two drift fields of 400 and 317 V/cm. An empirical model is used to fit the light yield and charge yield for both types of recoils. The best fit models can well describe the calibration data. The systematic uncertainties of the fitted models are obtained via statistical comparison against the data.


Diurnal effect of sub-GeV dark matter boosted by cosmic rays

PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, Vol.126, 091804(2021)

We point out a new type of diurnal effect for the cosmic ray boosted dark matter (DM). The DM-nucleon interactions not only allow the direct detection of DM with nuclear recoils but also allow cosmic rays to scatter with and boost the nonrelativistic DM to higher energies. If the DM-nuclei scattering cross sections are sufficiently large, the DM flux is attenuated as it propagates through the Earth, leading to a strong diurnal modulation. This diurnal modulation provides another prominent signature for the direct detection of boosted sub-GeV DM, in addition to signals with higher recoil energy.


Results of Dark Matter Search using the Full PandaX-II Exposure

Chinese Physics C, Vol.44, 125001(2020)

We report the dark matter search results using the full 132 ton⋅day exposure of the PandaX-II experiment, including all data from March 2016 to August 2018. No significant excess of events were identified above the expected background. Upper limits are set on the spin-independent dark matter-nucleon interactions. The lowest 90% confidence level exclusion on the spin-independent cross section is $2.0 \times 10^{−46} cm^{2}$ at a WIMP mass of 15 $GeV / c^{2}$.


A search for solar axions and anomalous neutrino magnetic moment with the complete PandaX-II data

Chinese Physics Letters, Vol.38, 011301(2020)

We report a search for new physics signals using the low energy electron recoil events in the complete data set from PandaX-II, in light of the recent event excess reported by XENON1T. The data correspond to a total exposure of 100.7 ton-day with liquid xenon. With robust estimates of the dominant background spectra, we perform sensitive searches on solar axions and neutrinos with enhanced magnetic moment. We find that the axion-electron coupling $g_{Ae} \lt 4.6\times 10^{-12}$ for an axion mass less than $\rm 0.1~keV/c^2$ and the neutrino magnetic moment $μ_ν \lt 3.2\times 10^{-11}μ_{B}$ at 90% confidence level. The observed excess from XENON1T is within our experimental constraints.


An Improved Evaluation of the Neutron Background in the PandaX-II Experiment

SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy(2019)

In dark matter direct detection experiments, neutron is a serious source of background, which can mimic the dark matter-nucleus scattering signals. In this paper, we present an improved evaluation of the neutron background in the PandaX-II dark matter experiment by a novel approach. Instead of fully relying on the Monte Carlo simulation, the overall neutron background is determined from the neutron-induced high energy signals in the data. In addition, the probability of producing a dark-matter-like background per neutron is evaluated with a complete Monte Carlo generator, where the correlated emission of neutron(s) and $\gamma$(s) in the ($\alpha$, n) reactions and spontaneous fissions is taken into consideration. With this method, the neutron backgrounds in the Run 9 (26-ton-day) and Run 10 (28-ton-day) data sets of PandaX-II are estimated to be 0.66±0.24 and 0.47±0.25 events, respectively.


Searching for neutrino-less double beta decay of 136Xe with PandaX-II liquid xenon detector

Chinese Physics C, Vol.43, 113001(2019)

We report the Neutrino-less Double Beta Decay (NLDBD) search results from PandaX-II dual-phase liquid xenon time projection chamber. The total live time used in this analysis is 403.1 days from June 2016 to August 2018. With NLDBD-optimized event selection criteria, we obtain a fiducial mass of 219 kg of natural xenon. The accumulated xenon exposure is 242 kg $\cdotp$ yr, or equivalently 22.2 kg $\cdotp$ yr of ${}^{136}Xe$ exposure. At the region around ${}^{136}Xe$ decay Q-value of 2458 keV, the energy resolution of PandaX-II is 4.2%. We find no evidence of NLDBD in PandaX-II and establish a lower limit for decay half-life of 2.1$\times 10^{23}$ yr at the 90% confidence level, which corresponds to an effective Majorana neutrino mass $m_{\beta \beta}\lt$ (1.4 - 3.7) eV. This is the first NLDBD result reported from a dual-phase xenon experiment.


Dark matter direct search sensitivity of the PandaX-4T experiment

Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, Vol.62, 31011(2018)

The PandaX-4T experiment, a 4-ton scale dark matter direct detection experiment, is being planned at the China Jinping Un- derground Laboratory. In this paper we present a simulation study of the expected background in this experiment. In a 2.8-ton fiducial mass and the signal region between 1-10 keV electron equivalent energy, the total electron recoil background is found to be $4.9 \times 10^{5} kg^{-1}d^{-1}keV^{-1}$. The nuclear recoil background in the same region is $2.8 \times 10^{-7} kg^{-1}d^{-1}keV^{-1}$. With an exposure of 5.6 ton-years, the sensitivity of PandaX-4T could reach a minimum spin-independent dark matter-nucleon cross section of $6 \times 10^{-48}cm^{2}$ at a dark matter mass of 40 $GeV/c^{2}$.


Constraining Dark Matter Models with a Light Mediator at the PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.121, 021304(2018)

We search for nuclear recoil signals of dark matter models with a light mediator in PandaX-II, a direct detection experiment in the China Jinping underground laboratory. Using data collected in 2016 and 2017 runs, corresponding to a total exposure of 54 ton day, we set upper limits on the zero-momentum dark matter-nucleon cross section. These limits have a strong dependence on the mediator mass when it is comparable to or below the typical momentum transfer. We apply our results to constrain self-interacting dark matter models with a light mediator mixing with standard model particles, and set strong limits on the model parameter space for the dark matter mass ranging from 5 GeV to 10 TeV.


PandaX-II Constraints on Spin-Dependent WIMP-Nucleon Effective Interactions

Physics Letters B, Vol.792, 193-198(2018)

We present PandaX-II constraints on candidate WIMP-nucleon effective interactions involving the nucleon or WIMP spin, including, in addition to standard axial spin-dependent (SD) scattering, various couplings among vector and axial currents, magnetic and electric dipole moments, and tensor interactions. The data set corresponding to a total exposure of 54-ton-days is reanalyzed to determine constraints as a function of the WIMP mass and isospin coupling. We obtain WIMP-nucleon cross section bounds of $1.6\times 10^{-41}cm^2$ and $9.0\times10^{-42}cm^2$ (90% c.l.) for neutron-only SD and tensor coupling, respectively, for a mass $M_{WIMP} ∼ 40 GeV/c^2$. The SD limits are the best currently available for $M_{WIMP} > 40 GeV/c^2$. We show that PandaX-II has reached a sensitivity sufficient to probe a variety of other candidate spin-dependent interactions at the weak scale.


Exploring the dark matter inelastic frontier with 79.6 days of PandaX-II data

Phys. Rev. D, Vol.96, 102007(2017)

We report here the results of searching for inelastic scattering of dark matter (initial and final state dark matter particles differ by a small mass splitting) with a nucleon for the first 79.6 days of PandaX-II data (Run 9). We set the upper limits for the spin independent weakly interactive massive particle–nucleon scattering cross section up to a mass splitting of $300  keV/c^{2}$ at two benchmark dark matter masses of 1 and $10  TeV/c^{2}$.


Limits on Axion Couplings from the First 80 Days of Data of the PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.119, 181806(2017)

We report new searches for solar axions and galactic axionlike dark matter particles, using the first low-background data from the PandaX-II experiment at China Jinping Underground Laboratory, corresponding to a total exposure of about $2.7×10^{4}$  kg day. No solar axion or galactic axionlike dark matter particle candidate has been identified. The upper limit on the axion-electron coupling ($g_{Ae}$) from the solar flux is found to be about $4.35×10^{−12}$ in the mass range from $10^{-5}$ to $1 keV/c^{2}$ with 90% confidence level, similar to the recent LUX result. We also report a new best limit from the ${}^{57}Fe$ deexcitation. On the other hand, the upper limit from the galactic axions is on the order of $10^{-13}$ in the mass range from 1 to $10 keV/c^{2}$ with 90% confidence level, slightly improved compared with the LUX.


Dark Matter Results From 54-Ton-Day Exposure of PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.119, 181302(2017)

We report a new search for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) using the combined low background data sets acquired in 2016 and 2017 from the PandaX-II experiment in China. The latest data set contains a new exposure of 77.1 live days, with the background reduced to a level of $0.8×10^{-3} evt/kg/day$, improved by a factor of 2.5 in comparison to the previous run in 2016. No excess events are found above the expected background. With a total exposure of $5.4×10^{4}kg day$, the most stringent upper limit on the spin-independent WIMP-nucleon cross section is set for a WIMP with mass larger than $100 GeV/c^{2}$, with the lowest 90% C.L. exclusion at $8.6×10^{-47}cm^{2}$ at $40 GeV/c^{2}$.


First dark matter search results from the PandaX-I experiment

Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, Vol.57, 2024(2017)

We report on the first dark-matter (DM) search results from PandaX-I, a low threshold dual-phase xenon experiment operating at the China JinPing Underground Laboratory. In the 37-kg liquid xenon target with 17.4 live-days of exposure, no DM particle candidate event was found. This result sets a stringent limit for low-mass DM particles and disfavors the interpretation of previously-reported positive experimental results. The minimum upper limit, $3.7 × 10^{-44}cm^{2}$, for the spin-independent isoscalar DM-particle-nucleon scattering cross section is obtained at a DM-particle mass of $49GeV/c^{2}$ at 90% confidence level.


Current status of direct dark matter detection experiments

Nature Physics, Vol.13, 212–216(2017)

Much like ordinary matter, dark matter might consist of elementary particles, and weakly interacting massive particles are one of the prime suspects. During the past decade, the sensitivity of experiments trying to directly detect them has improved by three to four orders of magnitude, but solid evidence for their existence is yet to come. We overview the recent progress in direct dark matter detection experiments and discuss future directions.

DOI:DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS4039

Spin-Dependent Weakly-Interacting-Massive-Particle–Nucleon Cross Section Limits from First Data of PandaX-II Experiment

Physical Review Letters, Vol.118, 071301(2017)

New constraints are presented on the spin-dependent weakly-interacting-massive-particle-(WIMP-)nucleon interaction from the PandaX-II experiment, using a data set corresponding to a total exposure of $3.3×10^{4}kg day$. Assuming a standard axial-vector spin-dependent WIMP interaction with ${}^{129}Xe$ and ${}^{131}Xe$ nuclei, the most stringent upper limits on WIMP-neutron cross sections for WIMPs with masses above $10 GeV/c^{2}$ are set in all dark matter direct detection experiments. The minimum upper limit of $4.1×10^{-41}cm^{2}$ at 90% confidence level is obtained for a WIMP mass of $40 GeV/c^{2}$. This represents more than a factor of 2 improvement on the best available limits at this and higher masses. These improved cross-section limits provide more stringent constraints on the effective WIMP-proton and WIMP-neutron couplings.


Krypton and radon background in the PandaX-I dark matter experiment

Journal of Instrumentation, Vol.12, T02002(2017)

We discuss an in-situ evaluation of the ${}^{85}Kr$, ${}^{222}Rn$, and ${}^{220}Rn$ background in PandaX-I, a 120-kg liquid xenon dark matter direct detection experiment. Combining with a simulation, their contributions to the low energy electron-recoil background in the dark matter search region are obtained.