Blas Cabrera

Stanford University

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2020)


Blas Cabrera is a low temperature physicist who throughout his career has developed novel detectors in particle astrophysics searches for the dark matter in our universe, and in and around our galaxy. Born in Paris in 1946 of refugees from the Spanish civil war, he comes from a tradition of physicists, with his grand father Blas Cabrera Filipe a famous Spanish experimental physicist from the early days of quantum mechanics, and his father Nicolas Cabrera Sanchez, a respected theoretical condensed matter physicist from Paris, Bristol, Virginia and finally Madrid. Professor Cabrera earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and his doctorate at Stanford University studying superconductivity under William Fairbank. After experimental gravitation research as a research associate at Stanford on GP-B, he joined the Stanford faculty in 1980 and started his quest to discover the identity of the dark matter. At Stanford, he chaired the Department of Physics, was Director of the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, and dedicated himself to teaching future scientist, engineers and humanist a love for physics and science. Cabrera received the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1990, was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1996, was awarded the APS WKH Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics in 2013 and was elected as a foreign member of Real Academia de Ciencias in Spain in 2013.

Research Interests

For more than thirty years the research group of Blas Cabrera, within the Physics Department at Stanford University, has focused on identifying what makes up the dark matter using novel detectors utilizing superconducting transition edge sensors to detect particle interactions within large crystals of germanium and silicon. Over the last three decades there has been compelling evidence from many independent experiments that the dark matter, which is responsible for the formation of structure within our universe, must be made up of a new and as yet undiscovered elementary particle. His research started with the suggestion in 1979 that the dark matter may be in the form of massive magnetically charged particles or monopoles. For a number of theoretical reasons, by 1985 the favored candidate had become weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs. These remain an important candidate today and for much of the past two decades the international collaboration called CDMS (cryogenic dark matter search) and more recently SuperCDMS has led the world in sensitivity for low mass WIMPs. He was Spokesperson for SuperCDMS Soudan deployed in the Soudan mine in northern Minnesota and most recently was Project Director for the SuperCDMS SNOLAB project . The experiment will soon operate larger mass detectors in the SNOLAB underground laboratory located in Sudbury, Canada.

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