University of York researchers are part of a team developing new detector technology needed for the next powerful particle accelerator, the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC).
With £ 3million in funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), nuclear and particle physicists in the UK will lead preparatory work to help design the first particle detector for the new facility to be built at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the United States.
Large particle accelerators are used for basic research in atomic and particle physics, and the electron-ion collision (EIC) will allow physicists to solve fundamental and unresolved questions in the science of the nature of matter.
The new facility allows scientists to imagine in detail the quarks and gluons found inside protons and atomic nuclei, and to study not only how they are distributed, but also how they move and interact with each other.
Researchers from the University of York will conduct a research and development program to address some of the technological challenges of delivering the physics program at the EIC.
They will transfer new technologies from chemistry and medical research to particle detector design and develop new advanced simulation methods.
Technologies developed by the University of York Center for Hyperpolarization in Magnetic Resonance (ChyM) – previously applied for use in medical research – will be used for the first time in a particle / nuclear physics facility.
The program will leverage York’s expertise in polarimetry – a technique used to measure the orientation of a particle’s spin.
Professor Simon Duckett, from the Department of Chemistry, said “Back in the 1960s, the creation of spin-polarized probes gave us a tempting opportunity to study particle interactions. It is only now, but by leveraging a simple inexpensive technology developed in York, expect we to be able to fully unlock this capacity through the creation of a versatile polarized particle detector. ”
Professor Dan Watts, from the Department of Physics, said: “It’s a very exciting time for hadron physics and it’s great to explore the application of new technologies and methods to this next generation facility”.
The science that the EIC enables promises to revolutionize the understanding of the ‘strong interplay’, one of nature’s fundamental forces. This force controls the behavior of hadrons – the family of subatomic particles that include protons and neutrons – that lie behind more than 99% of the visible mass of the universe.
Researchers will use the EIC to try to figure out how the strong interaction acts as a glue to hold matter together.
Over two and a half years, the funding will place the UK at the forefront of the development of some of the latest detector technologies.
Construction of the accelerator and its detectors is expected to begin around 2023/24 when the design is completed.
The first year of funding was approved under UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Fund.