skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on February 10, 2019

Title: Naturally occurring 32Si and low-background silicon dark matter detectors

Here, the naturally occurring radioisotope 32Si represents a potentially limiting background in future dark matter direct-detection experiments. We investigate sources of 32Si and the vectors by which it comes to reside in silicon crystals used for fabrication of radiation detectors. We infer that the 32Si concentration in commercial single-crystal silicon is likely variable, dependent upon the specific geologic and hydrologic history of the source (or sources) of silicon “ore” and the details of the silicon-refinement process. The silicon production industry is large, highly segmented by refining step, and multifaceted in terms of final product type, from which we conclude that production of 32Si-mitigated crystals requires both targeted silicon material selection and a dedicated refinement-through-crystal-production process. We review options for source material selection, including quartz from an underground source and silicon isotopically reduced in 32Si. To quantitatively evaluate the 32Si content in silicon metal and precursor materials, we propose analytic methods employing chemical processing and radiometric measurements. Ultimately, it appears feasible to produce silicon detectors with low levels of 32Si, though significant assay method development is required to validate this claim and thereby enable a quality assurance program during an actual controlled silicon-detector production cycle.
 [1] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0927-6505; PII: S0927650517302529; TRN: US1801504
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Astroparticle Physics
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 99; Journal ID: ISSN 0927-6505
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; Dark matter; Direct detection; Silicon; 32Si assay
OSTI Identifier: