Public lecture: Perth

Join the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip in Perth to learn how quantum technologies are used in the hunt for dark matter with Dr Jeremy Bourhill.

Date: Thursday 17 August 2023
Time: 6:00–7:30 pm: public lecture and Q&A
Venue: Murdoch Lecture Theatre, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Perth WA 6009

This is a FREE event, but registration is required.


Title: Australia’s search for dark matter: using quantum technology to try and see the unseeable

Dark matter is the biggest missing puzzle piece in our understanding of the Universe.  Understanding it would help to answer some of the biggest and scariest questions we like to ask, such as “why does the Universe even exist?”.  The nature of dark matter is a mystery that has been bothering physicists since the 1950s, and tells us that there’s more going on in the Universe than what meets the eye.  From observing our Universe through telescopes, scientists have been able to determine that the matter we can see accounts for only about 20% of all matter.

But what is the other 80%?  Well, we don’t really know.  All we can say for certain is exactly what’s in the name: we can’t see it, so it’s dark, but it does have a gravitational pull, therefore it’s matter!

There are a handful of theoretical particles that might explain other outstanding mysteries in physics, which fit the description of dark matter, so they make a good place to start looking.  In fact, Australian scientists are at the forefront of a global search, working off these predicted models to try and see a signal of dark matter here on Earth.  This obviously isn’t easy, or someone would have seen it by now.  To attempt this, we need to invent more sensitive or entirely new ways of observing the world.  In fact, we’re going to need to utilise technology born from the physics of the very very small: quantum mechanics!

But why bother?  Well, if we think about everything we’ve been able to accomplish so far using just the regular matter in the universe, we can’t even begin to imagine what we can achieve with the other 80% that’s out there!

In this public lecture, Dr Jeremy Bourhill will discuss the overwhelming evidence for the existence of dark matter, explain how Australian scientists are using some of the most advanced sensing technologies to detect it here on Earth, and finally discuss why it’s worth trying to detect it in the first place!  The lecture will be understandable by school-aged children, and will feature physical demonstrations and a 30-minute Q&A session.

Speaker: Dr Jeremy Bourhill

Dr Jeremy Bourhill is a Research Fellow in the Quantum Technologies and Dark Matter Laboratory at the University of Western Australia.  He received his doctorate in 2016 from UWA and has since worked as a research associate at UWA and IMT-Atlantique in France.  His research focuses on electron spin ensembles in solids and novel microwave techniques to interact with them for the purposes of designing quantum protocols.  In addition, Jeremy is interested in utilising unique 3D-printed microwave resonators for ultralight dark matter searches, chiral sensing and filtering.

We are very grateful to The University of Western Australia for their support of this event.


Major funding support

Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present.