Fracture processes observed with a cryogenic detector

J. Åström, P. C F Di Stefano, F. Pröbst, L. Stodolsky, J. Timonen, C. Bucci, S. Cooper, C. Cozzini, F. v. Feilitzsch, H. Kraus, J. Marchese, O. Meier, U. Nagel, Y. Ramachers, W. Seidel, M. Sisti, S. Uchaikin, L. Zerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


In the early stages of running of the CRESST dark matter search using sapphire detectors at very low temperature, an unexpectedly high rate of signal pulses appeared. Their origin was finally traced to fracture events in the sapphire due to the very tight clamping of the detectors. During extensive runs the energy and time of each event was recorded, providing large data sets for such phenomena. We believe this is the first time the energy release in fracture has been directly and accurately measured on a microscopic event-by-event basis. The energy threshold corresponds to the breaking of only a few hundred covalent bonds, a sensitivity some orders of magnitude greater than that of previous technique. We report some features of the data, including energy distributions, waiting time distributions, autocorrelations and the Hurst exponent. The energy distribution appear to follow a power law, d N / d E ∝ E- β, similar to the power law for earthquake magnitudes, and after appropriate translation, with a similar exponent. In the time domain, the waiting time w or gap distribution between events has a power law behavior at small w and an exponential fall-off at large w, and can be fit ∝ w- α e -w / w0. The autocorrelation function shows time correlations lasting for substantial parts of an hour. An asymmetry is found around large events, with higher count rates after, as opposed to before, the large event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-266
Number of pages5
JournalPhysics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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