Scientists have begun to wonder if they are looking for the correct type of dark matter. Traditional particle physics experiments are looking for much heavier proportions. Now, researchers have repurposed existing tabletop sensor technology to look for the particles that might make up the dark matter.
There is a possibility – dark photons may constitute dark matter. They may exert a weak oscillating force on ordinary matter, causing a particle to move back and forth. It is hard to measure this movement. The researchers think they can overcome this obstacle by using optomechanical accelerometers as sensors to detect and amplify this oscillation.
If the force is material-dependent, the researchers can use two objects composed of different materials. They can measure the difference in acceleration between the two materials. Their experimental setup consists of a silicon nitride membrane and a fixed beryllium mirror (to reflect light). The reflection would indicate that dark photons were present since the two materials have different properties.