The ALICE Experiment
Students: Arvinder Palaha, Plamen Petrov, Patrick Scott, Luke Hanratty, Graham Lee.
The ALICE experiment is studying relativistic heavy ion interactions at CERN in Geneva. We are the only UK group working in this exciting, and relatively new, area of particle physics although there are over two thousand physicists world-wide involved in it.
The ALICE detector
The ALICE collaboration has built a dedicated heavy-ion detector to exploit the unique physics potential of nucleus-nucleus interactions at LHC energies. Our aim is to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme densities where the formation of a new phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma, is expected. The existence of such a phase of matter and the study of its properties are crucial for understanding QCD and in particular chiral symmetry restoration. For this we propose to perform a comprehensive study of hadrons, electrons, muons and photons in the collisions of heavy ion nuclei.
The main challenge of heavy-ion experiments is recording the enormous number of particles which emerge from the collisions. At the LHC, a staggering 50,000 particles may be produced in a single heavy ion collision. A large fraction of these must be tracked and identified. Only then can a clear picture emerge and key signals be found pointing to different stages in the evolution from ordinary matter to a Quark-Gluon Plasma and back again.
Of course, in order to record these events one crucial element is the trigger electronics which allows the selection of about 100 of the most interesting central events from the 10,000 interactions per second. The Birmingham group designed, built and commissioned the entire trigger system for the ALICE detector and is responsible for its maintenance and running. The Birmingham group are also heavily involved in Monte Carlo physics simulations for ALICE and are playing a leading role in preparations for the first physics results from the LHC in December 2009 and early 2010.
Further information about ALICE
- The ALICE home page at http://aliceinfo.cern.ch/Public/Welcome.html/