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Juan I. Collar

Juan I. Collar

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Juan I. Collar, Associate Professor
PhD: University of South Carolina, 1992
Thesis advisor: Frank T. Avignone III

Location: LASR 241
Phone: (773) 702-4253

Currently Working On: Axions, Neutrino Detectors, WIMP Detectors

My main interest is in the development of innovative methods for the detection for hypothetical astroparticles (WIMPs, axions, magnetic monopoles, any yet-to-be-discovered component of cosmic rays that might constitute a fraction of the 'dark matter'). Needless to say, this is a risky business, but I am equally interested in the journey and the destination: the extreme levels of sensitivity required in some of these experiments force us to devise new detection technologies, in an endless quest for the 'better mouse-trap'. It is a very enjoyable challenge. I am also attracted to other exotica such as double-beta decay and some 'hard' problems in neutrino detection (coherent neutrino scattering, detection of the relic neutrino sea). I enjoy the condensed-matter aspects of detector development and anything having to do with the interactions between radiation and matter. I get easily excited about cross-disciplinary endeavors and real-life applications of detectors that might otherwise be chasing ghost particles.

Together with collaborators at the Groupe de Physique des Solides (Universite Paris VII), University of Lisbon, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, I developed large-mass, low-background superheated droplet detectors (SDDs) dedicated to WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle) searches (The SIMPLE dark matter search). On my arrival to Chicago I started investigating the possibility of making large bubble chambers stable enough for the same goal, using CF3I, a target ideal for WIMP detection. Our collaboration with FNAL and Indiana University (The Chicago Observatory for Underground Particle Physics, COUPP) has already led to the best sensitivity to spin-dependent WIMP interactions. We presently work on a 60 kg and 500 kg CF3I chamber. We expect the first, to be installed in SNOlab during 2010, to provide a similar leading sensitivity also to spin-independent WIMP couplings. At CERN I am involved in CAST, a search for solar axions using a decommissioned LHC test magnet, an interesting astroparticle spin-off from the Large Hadron Collider effort. More recently, I have worked on the application of P-type Point Contact germanium detectors to coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering, double beta decay and searches for light dark matter candidates. These devices have already produced some very interesting results within the CoGeNT and MAJORANA experiments.

Recent publications:

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(773) 702-4253



(773) 834-8279


Postal Address:


5640 S. Ellis Ave., LASR 214, Chicago, IL 60637


Last update:


May 15, 2010