Scientists at the State University of New York at Albany have discovered the property of supercooled water to freeze when symbolically exposed to it at the subatomic level. This allowed them to design a new kind of detector that will help in the search for dark matter. The advantage of the technology is its incredible low cost, which will make it possible to create thousands of detectors in the future.
Even water cooled below 0 ° C does not necessarily turn into ice - additional conditions are needed for crystals to begin to form. American scientists managed to cool the purified water down to -20 ° C, keeping it liquid. In this state, it is extremely unstable and any impact leads to the formation of "snowflakes", local areas of tiny pieces of ice. And this effect can be provoked even by simply irradiating the camera with water with weak radiation.
Matthew Shidagis, the lead author of the study, says that they were able to prove that even a negligible effect on water atoms in this state provokes the formation of ice. This is in many ways similar to the principle of operation of old dosimeters with a chamber with superheated steam - when moving through an unstable environment, active particles cause a disturbance that can be noticed visually. However, in the case of supercooled water, gamma radiation had no effect - unlike neutrons, which led scientists to the idea of building a dark matter detector.
In short, the idea is to create conditions around the water chamber where all kinds of impact on it can be excluded. And then take measurements - if something causes the formation of ice, then we have found new radiation! And since water is much cheaper than liquid xenon or superfluid helium in modern devices, experiments can be carried out a lot and on a grand scale, and finally start large-scale searches for dark matter.