A Large Ion Collider Experiment
|ATLAS||A Toroidal LHC Apparatus|
|CMS||Compact Muon Solenoid|
|ALICE||A Large Ion Collider Experiment|
|TOTEM||Total Cross Section, Elastic Scattering and Diffraction Dissociation|
|MoEDAL||Monopole and Exotics Detector At the LHC|
|p and Pb||Linear accelerators for protons (Linac 2) and Lead (Linac 3)|
|(not marked)||Proton Synchrotron Booster|
|SPS||Super Proton Synchrotron|
A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) is one of seven detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The other six are: ATLAS, CMS, TOTEM, LHCb, LHCf and MoEDAL. ALICE is optimized to study heavy ion collisions. Pb-Pb nuclei collisions will be studied at a centre of mass energy of 2.76 TeV per nucleus. The resulting temperature and energy density are expected to be large enough to generate a quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter wherein quarks and gluons are deconfined.
Inner Tracking System
The Inner Tracking System (ITS) consists of six cylindrical layers of silicon detectors. The layers surround the collision point and measure the properties of the emerging particles, pin-pointing their positions to a fraction of a millimetre. The ITS will recognize particles containing heavy quarks by identifying the points at which they decay.
ITS layers (counting from the interaction point):
- 2 layers of SPD (Silicon Pixel Detector),
- 2 layers of SDD (Silicon Drift Detector),
- 2 layers of SSD (Silicon Strip Detector).
Time Projection Chamber
The ALICE Time Projection Chamber (TPC) is the main particle tracking device in ALICE. Charged particles crossing the gas of the TPC ionize the gas atoms along their path, liberating electrons that drift towards the end plates of the detector. An avalanche effect in the vicinity of the anode wires strung in the readout, will give the necessary signal amplification. The positive ions created in the avalanche will induce a positive current signal on the pad plane. The readout is done by the 557 568 pads that form the cathode plane of the multi-wire proportional chambers (MWPC) located at the end plates. This gives the r and coordinates. The last coordinate, z, is given by the drift time.
Transition Radiation Detector
Electrons and positrons can be discriminated from other charged particles using the emission of transition radiation, X-rays emitted when the particles cross many layers of thin materials. To develop such a Transition Radiation Detector (TRD) for ALICE many detector prototypes were tested in mixed beams of pions and electrons.
Time of Flight
Charged particles are identified in ALICE by Time-Of-Flight (TOF); heavier particles are slower and so take longer to reach the outer layers of the detector. For its TOF system ALICE uses detectors called Multigap Resistive Plate Chambers (MRPC). There are approximately 160 000 MRPC pads with time resolution of about 100 ps distributed over the large surface of 150 square meters. Using the tracking information from other detectors every track firing a sensor is identified.
The Photon Spectrometer (PHOS) is designed to measure the temperature of collisions by detecting photons emerging from them. It will be made of lead tungstate crystals. When high energy photons strike lead tungstate, they make it glow, or scintillate, and this glow can be measured. Lead tungstate is extremely dense (denser than iron), stopping most photons that reach it.
High Momentum Particle Identification Detector
The High Momentum Particle Identification Detector (HMPID) is a RICH detector to determine the speed of particles beyond the momentum range available through energy loss (in ITS and TPC, p = 600 MeV) and through time-of-flight measurements (in TOF, p = 1.2–1.4 GeV). Its momentum range is up to 3 GeV for pion/kaon discrimination and up to 5 GeV for kaon/proton discrimination. It is the world's largest caesium iodide RICH detector, with an active area of 11 m². A prototype was successfully tested at CERN in 1997 and currently takes data at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US.
The muon spectrometer measures pairs of muons, in particular those coming from the decays of J/ψ and Upsilon particles. Tracking chambers to detect the muons and reconstruct their trajectories will be made from a special composite material, which is highly rigid but very thin. A set of resistive plate chambers (RPC) acts as a triggering device.
Forward Multiplicity Detectors
The Forward Multiplicity Detectors (FMD) consist of 5 large silicon discs with each 10 240 individual detector channels to measure the charged particles emitted at small angles relative to the beam. The forward detectors also comprise the main trigger detectors for timing (T0) and for collision centrality (V0). Another important forward detector in ALICE is the Photon Multiplicity Detector (PMD). This is a pre-shower detector which measures the multiplicity and spatial distribution of photons produced in the collisions....
The Electro-Magnetic Calorimeter (EM-Cal) will add greatly to the high momentum particle measurement capabilities of ALICE.
August 2012 highest temperature experiments
In August 2012 ALICE scientists announced that their experiments produced quark-gluon plasma with temperature at around 5.5 trillion degrees, the highest temperature mass achieved in any physical experiments thus far. This temperature is about 38% higher than the previous record of about 4 trillion degrees, achieved in the 2010 experiments at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The ALICE results were announced at the August 13 Quark Matter 2012 conference in Washington, DC. The quark-gluon plasma produced by these experiments approximates the conditions in the universe that existed microseconds after the Big Bang, before the matter coalesced into atoms.
- CERN scientists create the highest temperature mass humanity has ever seen, Yahoo! News, 15 August, 2012. Retrieved 15 August, 2012
- Hot stuff: CERN physicists create record-breaking subatomic soup, Nature newsblog, 13 August, 2012. Retrieved 15 August, 2012
- LHC primordial matter is hottest stuff ever made, New Scientist, 14 August, 2012. Retrieved 15 August, 2012
- Official ALICE Public Webpage at CERN
- ALICE section on US/LHC Website
- ALICE photography panorama
- Photography panorama of ALICE detector center
- K. Aamodt et al. (ALICE collaboration) (2008). "The ALICE experiment at the CERN LHC". Journal of Instrumentation 3 (8): S08002. Bibcode:2008JInst...3S8002T. doi:10.1088/1748-0221/3/08/S08002. (Full design documentation)