Science & Education

Photo Detector Development

Many neutrino and dark matter experiments detect particle interactions by looking for the light created when a particle hits the detector medium. Detecting that light is a challenge because it is very faint.

Currently, photo-multiplier tubes (PMTs) are the most widely used tool for this purpose. However, they are expensive, relatively inefficient (<35%), and rather radioactive (which is problematic for these sensitive experiments). New technologies that could replace PMTs in astroparticle physics need to meet a number of challenging criteria: low radioactivity, large area coverage, high efficiency over many wavelengths of light, and the ability to detect single photons.

The Canadian astroparticle physics community is at the forefront of developing new light detection technologies. Although driven by astroparticle physics, these technologies will also provide solutions in other fields that need large area photo-detectors, like detecting radioactive material.


Through its multi-institution collaboration, the McDonald Institute will enable the development of all aspects of photon detection pertaining to particle astrophysics applications.