UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


New horizons opening in dark matter detection

3 October 2022

Professors Chamkaur Ghag and Peter Barker (both UCL Physics & Astronomy) receive a major grant which builds on the work they have been carrying out within the Cosmoparticle Initiative.

Fiona Adler setting up the optical systems for the experiment at UCL

Direct detection of dark matter is one of the highest priorities in science at the moment. Professors Chamkaur Ghag and Peter Barker have been awarded a £500,000 grant following their bid to UKRI's Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics (QTFP) programme. This success will enable them and their team to search for ultra-light dark matter with levitated quantum opto-mechanical sensors. The QTFP grant will support two postdoctoral researchers to develop two different types of sensors.

Professors Chamkaur Ghag and Peter Barker share this success with their PhD students: Fiona Alder (High Energy Physics group) worked with Robert James (High Energy Physics group) and Jonathan Gosling (Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Positron Physics group).  

Professor Chamkaur Ghag said: “The proposal builds on the work we accelerated through the Cosmoparticle Initiative and relies heavily on the excellent work of our PhD students, with Fiona funded through the Cosmoparticle Initiative.” 

Professor Peter Barker added: “The programme builds on our expertise and the equipment support via the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL as well as our ongoing programme in levitated quantum optomechanics."



  • Fiona Adler setting up the optical systems for the experiment at UCL. Credit: Professor Chamkaur Ghag.