Regular Article - Experimental Physics
Particle detection and tracking with DNA
ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
2 School of Physics ,Physics Road, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, 2006, Sydney, NSW, Australia
3 Garvan Institute of Medical Research, 2010, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
4 Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
5 Computational Biology Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, Thormohlensgt 55, 5008, Bergen, Norway
6 Department of Biosciences, Durham University, DH1 3LE, Durham, UK
Accepted: 28 March 2022
Published online: 8 April 2022
We present the first proof-of-concept simulations of detectors using biomaterials to detect particle interactions. The essential idea behind a “DNA detector” involves the attachment of a forest of precisely-sequenced single or double-stranded nucleic acids from a thin holding layer made of a high-density material. Incoming particles break a series of strands along a roughly co-linear chain of interaction sites and the severed segments then fall to a collection area. Since the sequences of base pairs in nucleic acid molecules can be precisely amplified and measured using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the original spatial position of each broken strand inside the detector can be reconstructed with nm precision. Motivated by the potential use as a low-energy directional particle tracker, we perform the first Monte Carlo simulations of particle interactions inside a DNA detector. We compare the track topology as a function of incoming direction, energy, and particle type for a range of ionising particles. While particle identification and energy reconstruction might be challenging without a significant scale-up, the excellent potential angular and spatial resolution ( axial resolution for keV-scale particles and nm-scale track segments) are clear advantages of this concept. We conclude that a DNA detector could be a cost-effective, portable, and powerful new particle detection technology. We outline the outstanding experimental challenges, and suggest directions for future laboratory tests.
© The Author(s) 2022
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