Breakthrough for Melbourne Uni dark matter underground lab

Stephen Kuper

New images reveal a major breakthrough in the construction of the first underground physics laboratory in the southern hemisphere, at the Stawell Gold Mine in Victoria.

Breakthrough for Melbourne Uni dark matter underground lab
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The University of Melbourne’s Professor Elisabetta Barberio, who heads the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory project, said the excavation breakthrough is a step closer to the discovery of dark matter.

Understanding how the universe was formed from dark matter is one of the world’s biggest mysteries, one which Professor Barberio is hoping the laboratory at Stawell will help solve.

The excavation work, which is being completed by the owner operator of the gold mine, Stawell Gold Mines, began in August 2019 and is expected to take another two months. The laboratory consists of a main research hall and a side access wing configured in an ‘L’ Shape.

"The centre will establish the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory as the southern hemisphere's epicentre for dark matter research and a national facility that is desired for other disciplines," Professor Barberio said.

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Construction completion is planned for late 2020 with operations expected to commence in early 2021.

Professor Barberio added, "It will provide a dynamic environment for advances in ultra-sensitive detectors, ultra-low radiation techniques, spin-technology translation, and highly trained graduates ready to lead innovation in Australian industry."

The Commonwealth and state governments have each allocated $5 million in funding for the building of the facility.

In August, funding was boosted by the Australian Research Council establishinga $35 million Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics to search for dark matter.

The partners for the laboratory are the Australian National University, the University of Adelaide, Swinburne University and ANSTO.

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