Research hints at extreme
are a step closer to creating the most extreme form of matter known
to physics. Supported by a small team from DOE's Argonne
National Laboratory, researchers found tantalizing clues that
suggest a "quark-gluon plasma" was created by the Relativistic Heavy
Ion Collider at Brookhaven.
A quark-gluon plasma is an unimaginably hot, dense stew of elementary particles thought to exist only for a few microseconds after the Big Bang and possibly in the centers of neutron stars.
"This is the only state of matter in which quarks are liberated from the inside of protons and neutrons and can roam free inside a larger volume," said Birger Back of Argonne's Physics Division, who leads Argonne's research with the Phobos detector at RHIC.
One of four particle detectors at RHIC, Phobos was built by a collaboration that includes Argonne, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brookhaven, the universities of Illinois at Chicago, Maryland, Rochester, and Krakow, Poland, and the National Central University in Taiwan. Although relatively small in comparison to its 1,200-ton brethren at the accelerator facility, Phobos provided valuable data in the quark-gluon plasma experiments.
"Phobos has a unique ability to measure all charged particles from a collision," Back said. "It's almost custom-made for this experiment." Back and his colleagues from UIC were responsible for building and testing the "multiplicity" section of the detector. Technicians at Fermilab performed the intricate task of bonding micro-wires to thousands of silicon plates that measure the energies and direction of nearly all charged particles emitted from a particle collision. A second part of the detector analyzes how particles are deflected by a magnetic field.
This research was funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Nuclear Physics Division, with additional funding from the National Science Foundation and a large number of international agencies. For more information, contact Dave Jacque (630/252-5582 or email@example.com) at Argonne.
Submitted by DOE's Argonne National Laboratory
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