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
£55 million investment raised by ESA BIC UK companies in the last 8 years17/06/2019 16:15:00
New research has shown that the companies that have taken part in the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre United Kingdom (ESA BIC UK) have collectively raised over £55 million in equity investment in the last eight years.
International team of scientists explore the secrets of Saturn's rings14/06/2019 15:32:00
An international team of scientists have studied the intricate characteristics of Saturn’s mysterious rings in never-before-seen detail, it has been revealed in a paper published yesterday.
15,000 free books for UK schools to celebrate global space mission13/06/2019 12:51:00
To celebrate the UK’s involvement with one of the most globally-anticipated space missions, the James Webb Space Telescope, STFC is launching a new project to encourage thousands of British students to realise their inner space scientist by offering them new teaching resources that include 15,000 free books.
Greener energy, safer roads and improved flood protection11/06/2019 17:11:00
Protecting and improving the nation’s vital infrastructure – such as energy, transport and digital communications – is about to become easier, as the first successful results of a world-leading computing project are being showcased.
New Delivery Plan outlines our vision for research and innovation in the UK11/06/2019 11:43:00
Ambitious delivery plans published yesterday outline how UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which includes STFC, will work with its partners to ensure that world-leading research and innovation continues to flourish in the UK.
STFC seeks new Council members10/06/2019 10:05:00
STFC is currently seeking new members to sit on its Council.
Could computers be the next tool to help tackle hospital superbugs?07/06/2019 13:05:00
6th June 2019 – Hospital superbugs such as MRSA or E.coli could soon be under attack from a new generation of drugs designed with the help of advanced computing technologies from STFC and IBM Research.
New project will ignite a passion for science in underserved communities05/06/2019 10:05:00
A ground-breaking new initiative aims to spark a passion for science in communities across the UK by inviting them to develop tailor-made activities in partnership with their local science centres.