Search for topological defect dark matter with a global network of optical magnetometers

Samer Afach, Ben C. Buchler, Dmitry Budker, Conner Dailey, Andrei Derevianko, Vincent Dumont, Nataniel L. Figueroa, Ilja Gerhardt, Zoran D. Grujić, Hong Guo, Chuanpeng Hao, Paul S. Hamilton, Morgan Hedges, Derek F. Jackson Kimball, Dongok Kim, Sami Khamis, Thomas Kornack, Victor Lebedev, Zheng Tian Lu, Hector Masia-RoigMadeline Monroy, Mikhail Padniuk, Christopher A. Palm, Sun Yool Park, Karun V. Paul, Alexander Penaflor, Xiang Peng, Maxim Pospelov, Rayshaun Preston, Szymon Pustelny, Theo Scholtes, Perrin C. Segura, Yannis K. Semertzidis, Dong Sheng, Yun Chang Shin, Joseph A. Smiga, Jason E. Stalnaker, Ibrahim Sulai, Dhruv Tandon, Tao Wang, Antoine Weis, Arne Wickenbrock, Tatum Wilson, Teng Wu, David Wurm, Wei Xiao, Yucheng Yang, Dongrui Yu, Jianwei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Ultralight bosons such as axion-like particles are viable candidates for dark matter. They can form stable, macroscopic field configurations in the form of topological defects that could concentrate the dark matter density into many distinct, compact spatial regions that are small compared with the Galaxy but much larger than the Earth. Here we report the results of the search for transient signals from the domain walls of axion-like particles by using the global network of optical magnetometers for exotic (GNOME) physics searches. We search the data, consisting of correlated measurements from optical atomic magnetometers located in laboratories all over the world, for patterns of signals propagating through the network consistent with domain walls. The analysis of these data from a continuous month-long operation of GNOME finds no statistically significant signals, thus placing experimental constraints on such dark matter scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1396-1401
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
(9) program (project no.2015/19/B/ST2/02129); USTC startup funding; the National Heising-Simons Foundation; the National Science Centre ofPoland within the OPUS Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 62071012 and 61225003); the National Hi-Tech Research and Development (863) Program of China and IBS-R017-D1-2021-a00 of the Republic of Korea. We acknowledge funding provided by the Institute of Physics Belgrade through a grant by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia.

Funding Information:
We assume that domain walls comprise the dominant component of dark matter. Thus, with the energy density ρDW≈0.4GeVcm–3in the Milky Way24, the energy per unit area (surface tension) in a domain wall, σDW, determines the average separation between the domain walls, L. The surface tension σDW is related to the symmetry-breaking scale9 as We are grateful to C. Pankow, J. R. Smith, J. Read, M. Givon, R. Folman, W. Gawlik, K. Grimm, G. Łukasiewicz, P. Fierlinger, V. Schultze, T. Sander-Thömmes and H. Müller for insightful discussions. This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants PHY-1707875, PHY-1707803, PHY-1912465 and PHY-1806672; the Swiss (8) National Science Foundation under grant no. 200021 172686; the German Research Foundation (DFG) under grant no. 439720477; the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the Quantumtechnologien program (FKZ 13N15064); the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 695405; the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+; DFG Reinhart Koselleck Project; Simons Foundation; a Fundamental Physics Innovation Award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation;

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

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