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Russian researchers test diamonds to create detector for Large Hadron Collider

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has delivered a sample of a diamond to Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) that can serve as a basis for creating detectors to trace collisions of elementary particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
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Such unique diamonds are created as single samples specifically for CERN. Prior to January 2018, the received diamond will be examined in Tomsk in order to make further upgrades. Then, the constructed diamond detector will be sent back to CERN where it will operate for a test year. If the results of the study bear fruit, the research team will get a chance to apply the new technology and bolster the functioning quality of other diamond detectors at the LHC.

The detectors, which are now installed at the LHC, often behave unpredictably and it is not always possible to figure out the reasons for the differences in working characteristics. For example, why one of two detectors maintained under the same conditions with similar initial features malfunctions while the second one keeps on working for many months? The challenge for TPU scientists is to unveil the changes inside such detectors during the operation of the collider, and to propose improvements in order to boost the stability of detectors at high-power conditions which will be applied at LHC in the near future according to the CERN agenda.

At present, the TPU researchers are looking into the studies of properties of the delivered diamond and trying it out on various physical processes. The initial experiments have shown that diamond detectors might behave differently under the same condition due to the metallization process when a diamond is covered with the thin layer of a metal. To solve this issue, Russian scientists have suggested synthesizing diamond layers with legated (embedded) boron on top of a non-conducting detector body.

«Fundamentally, we are growing a second diamond with a boron admixture on top of the first diamond. The diamond coatings are bound together very effectively while the adhesion of their surfaces is nearly ideal. These benefits mitigate the risk of defects appearing between the layers and simultaneously increase the probability that during its work a detector will demonstrate more predictable behavior. After detailed studies of the diamond sample from CERN, we are going to cover it with such a diamond-boron coating and in January 2018 the new detector based on a modified diamond will be installed in a special experimental zone of the LHC for the trial operating year,» TPU engineer Vitaly Okhotnikov stated.

As previously reported, over the past two years TPU has become an active member of six CERN collaborations including four highly crucial scientific teams dealing with experiments. In particular, the Tomsk physicists have joined an LHC upgrade. Another group of scientists carries out improvements to gas detectors and instituting them into the industry during the RD51collaboration. One more scientific group from TPU has joined the international research NA64 collaboration project at super proton synchrotron (SPS) which investigates light dark matter.

TPU physicists have set even more ambitious goal to create a solid scientific and technical foundation for the growth of domestically enhanced diamond detectors, which should be more resistant to increased capacities than those CERN is planning to switch to in the near future.

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