Direct searches for low mass dark matter particles via scattering off target nuclei require detection of recoiling atoms with energies of ~1 keV or less. The amount of electronic excitation produced by such atoms is quenched relative to a recoiling electron of the same energy. The Lindhard model of this quenching, as originally formulated, remains widely used after more than 50 years. The present work shows that for very small energies, a simplifying approximation of that model must be removed. Implications for the sensitivity of direct detection experiments are discussed.
Wed, 10 Dec 14
Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures