Science and Technology Facilities Council
Building a billion pixel detector for the Large Hadron Collider
Scientists, engineers and technicians at Daresbury Laboratory are playing a key role in building ground-breaking new technologies that will enable a major upgrade of the ALICE experiment, one of the four main detectors at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Weighing more than the Eiffel Tower and sitting in a vast cavern 56m below the ground, ALICE acts like a giant microscope that is used to observe and study a state of matter that was last present in the universe just billionths of a second after the Big Bang. The LHC is used to create this matter, which has a temperature around 400,000 times that of the sun, by accelerating and then colliding heavy nuclei of lead. Research at ALICE allows us to reconstruct and provide new insights into the physics of the early universe when, 13.8 billion years ago, in the moments after the Big Bang, the Universe consisted of a primordial soup of particles called Quark-Gluon Plasma.
The ALICE upgrade is a significant international project, and the team at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, has been developing and building ground-breaking new technologies as part of a new Inner Tracking System. Extremely thin and highly-pixelated sensors, together with ultra-light support structures will boost the tracking performance of ALICE by a factor of a hundred. It will be the thinnest, most pixelated tracker at the LHC, capable of identifying and measuring the energy of particles created by the LHC’s collisions at lower energies than any of the other LHC experiments.
The Daresbury-Liverpool team is building 30 staves of this new generation of sensor, each containing millions of pixels. The staves, which frame and support the sensors, are now being carefully transported to CERN in batches every six weeks until the end of September, where they will be tested before being installed, officially making ALICE a billion pixel detector
Dr Roy Lemmon, physicist and lead for the ALICE upgrade project at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, which is located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, yesterday said:
"This project highlights the skills and significant role of the UK’s researchers in the development of new generations of technology for, in this case, ALICE, part of the world’s largest science experiment. It’s very exciting to be part of something that will not only help solve our science challenges, but which could also impact our lives in a really positive way, such as through improvements in medical imaging, through the development of new technologies.
“The ALICE upgrade is taking place during the scheduled two-year shutdown for the LHC. The newly-upgraded experiment will start taking data in 2021.”
Further information about ALICE at the CERN website.
Further information about Daresbury Laboratory at the STFC website.
Tel: 01925 603232
Latest News from
Science and Technology Facilities Council
Key role for UK industry in answering fundamental questions about the Universe18/03/2019 13:05:00
Powerful new particle accelerator will drive huge physics experiment.
UK becomes home to the HQ of the new international organisation behind the World's biggest ever radio telescope13/03/2019 17:01:00
At a treaty signing in Rome yesterday the UK has formally become the home of the new international organisation behind what will soon be the World’s biggest ever radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
UK signs up to the world’s biggest ever radio telescope13/03/2019 11:07:00
The UK yesterday signed an agreement in Rome as one of the first organisations involved in the science behind the world’s largest radio telescope.
Using space know-how to 'sniff' out salad quality08/03/2019 12:05:00
Scientists in the UK are working to develop new technology which will be able to ‘smell’ when fruit or vegetables are going off – potentially saving tonnes of waste.
Scientists hunt for new light-harvesting chemical for more effective solar panels05/03/2019 13:05:00
An international team of scientists, led by the UK, are hunting for new, organic light-harvesting chemicals to make solar panels that are both more effective at creating electricity and are environmentally friendly.
Using big science to train data experts in bits and bytes26/02/2019 13:43:00
STFC is helping to train the next generation of UK leaders in artificial intelligence by offering up data from global science facilities.
UK scientists help to reveal hundreds of thousands of galaxies20/02/2019 12:05:00
The first results from an international radio telescope survey were yesterday announced, revealing hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies – and UK scientists are ‘right at the heart of the project’.
Discover the intriguing ice worlds of the outer Solar System18/02/2019 12:05:00
An expert in planetary science is coming to Swindon later this month to give a free public lecture to schoolchildren and the public on the ice worlds that exist in the outer part of the Solar System.