Searching for Scalar Dark Matter via Coupling to Fundamental Constants with Photonic, Atomic, and Mechanical Oscillators

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We present a way to search for light scalar dark matter (DM), seeking to exploit putative coupling between dark matter scalar fields and fundamental constants, by searching for frequency modulations in direct comparisons between frequency stable oscillators. Specifically we compare a cryogenic sapphire oscillator (CSO), hydrogen maser (HM) atomic oscillator, and a bulk acoustic wave quartz oscillator (OCXO). This work includes the first calculation of the dependence of acoustic oscillators on variations of the fundamental constants, and demonstration that they can be a sensitive tool for scalar DM experiments. Results are presented based on 16 days of data in comparisons between the HM and OCXO, and 2 days of comparison between the OCXO and CSO. No evidence of oscillating fundamental constants consistent with a coupling to scalar dark matter is found, and instead limits on the strength of these couplings as a function of the dark matter mass are determined. We constrain the dimensionless coupling constant de and combination |dme-dg| across the mass band 4.4×10-19?mφ?6.8×10-14 eV c-2, with most sensitive limits de?1.59×10-1, |dme-dg|?6.97×10-1. Notably, these limits do not rely on maximum reach analysis (MRA), instead employing the more general coefficient separation technique. This experiment paves the way for future, highly sensitive experiments based on state-of-the-art acoustic oscillators, and we show that these limits can be competitive with the best current MRA-based exclusion limits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number071301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021


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