The DEAP-1 low-background liquid argon detector was used to measure scintillation pulse shapes of electron and nuclear recoil events and to demonstrate the feasibility of pulse-shape discrimination down to an electron-equivalent energy of 20 keVee. In the surface dataset using a triple-coincidence tag we found the fraction of β events that are misidentified as nuclear recoils to be <1.4×10−7 (90% C.L.) for energies between 43–86 keVee and for a nuclear recoil acceptance of at least 90%, with 4% systematic uncertainty on the absolute energy scale. The discrimination measurement on surface was limited by nuclear recoils induced by cosmic-ray generated neutrons. This was improved by moving the detector to the SNOLAB underground laboratory, where the reduced background rate allowed the same measurement to be done with only a double-coincidence tag. The combined data set contains 1.23 × 108 events. One of those, in the underground data set, is in the nuclear-recoil region of interest. Taking into account the expected background of 0.48 events coming from random pileup, the resulting upper limit on the level of electronic recoil contamination is <2.7×10−8 (90% C.L.) between 44–89 keVee and for a nuclear recoil acceptance of at least 90%, with 6% systematic uncertainty on the absolute energy scale. We developed a general mathematical framework to describe pulse-shape-discrimination parameter distributions and used it to build an analytical model of the distributions observed in DEAP-1. Using this model, we project a misidentification fraction of approximately 10−10 for an electron-equivalent energy threshold of 15 keVee for a detector with 8 PE/keVee light yield. This reduction enables a search for spin-independent scattering of WIMPs from 1000 kg of liquid argon with a WIMP-nucleon cross-section sensitivity of 10−46 cm2, assuming negligible contribution from nuclear recoil backgrounds.

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Keywords Dark matter, DEAP, Liquid argon, Liquid noble gas detector, Pulse-shape discrimination, WIMPs
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Journal Astroparticle Physics
Amaudruz, P.-A., Batygov, M., Beltran, B., Bonatt, J., Boudjemline, K., Boulay, M.G, … Ward, M. (2016). Measurement of the scintillation time spectra and pulse-shape discrimination of low-energy β and nuclear recoils in liquid argon with DEAP-1. Astroparticle Physics, 85, 1–23. doi:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2016.09.002