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Welcome to Legnaro National Laboratories (LNL)

lnl flagsLNL is one of the four national labs of the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). The mission is to perform basic research in nuclear physics and nuclear-astrophysics, together with applications of nuclear technologies.

More than 800 scientists from all over the world are involved in the ongoing research programs. Every day about 250 people work at LNL, half of them being INFN employees (physicists, engineers, technicians....) the remaining half coming from universities and research institutions in Italy and abroad. The laboratory budget is nearly 20 Million Euro per year, half for handling and research, half for personnel. Strength points are the development of particle accelerators and of nuclear radiation detectors.

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Dark Matter is one of the major problems of modern physics, that is we know the nature of only one fifth of the matter constituting the Universe. The remaining part could be made of particles still to be discovered, among them the axion.

The existence of axions was introduced to solve another open problem: the neutron electric dipole moment is so small to have prevented its measurement so far, and to explain this the theory must be unnaturally fine tuned. The axion solves this problem, however its discovery remains an experimental challenge. The axion is a particle weighting 1012 times less than the electron and with a Compton wavelength of the order of the centimeter, thus it is light but not small. Due to its very feeble coupling with the Standard Model particles it is possible that Dark Matter is entirely made of axions.

It is thus possible to build an apparatus which is sensitive to axions forming the Dark Matter halo of our galaxy, the so called "haloscope". The typical haloscope is a device which measures the power inside a microwave cavity immersed in a strong magnetic field, a fraction of this power could be due to the axion to photon conversion through the Primakoff effect. The device have to be tuned to the frequency matching the axion mass, but since this last is not known an haloscope must be able to scan the widest possible mass range.

This type of haloscope is not the only possible one. In fact, axion phenomenology is not limited to the Primakoff effect, but also allows the interaction with the spins of ordinary matter. By using an electron spin-rich material and a static magnetic field, it is possible to couple the ferromagnetic resonance of the material with a mode of a resonant cavity. In this way the search for an axionic signal can be done by measuring the sample magnetization. This was accomplished at the Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro by the QUAX collaboration, an experiment founded by INFN Commissione Scientifica Nazionale 2. The first results appeared in The European Physical Journal C (, were the operation of a unique haloscope prototype is described. It is indeed the first ferromagnetic haloscope, sensitive to the interaction of Dark Matter axions with electron spin. The instrument worked as expected, searching for signals due to axions with a mass around 58 µeV (corresponding to 14 GHz photons). No signal has been detected, thus limits on the strength of the axion-electron coupling have been placed.

This prototype is the first step towards building a larger scale apparatus, capable of exploring with a higher sensitivity a wider interval of axion masses, and complementary to the other haloscopes running nowadays.





LNL Seminars

All seminars

Low energy accelerators in Mexico: Scientific programs and opportunities for collaboration
by Prof. Efrain Chavez (Università UNAM Città del Messico)
Wednesday, 21 November 2018 from to at LAE meeting room

Optical spectroscopy for nuclear and atomic science at JYFL
by Prof. Iain D. Moore (Department of Physics, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
Tuesday, 4 December 2018 from to at Rostagni meeting room

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