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17 december 2018

Closed FOM programme

Number 21.
Title Relativistic heavy-ion physics: ALICE (ALICE)
Executive organisational unit BUW + FOM-Nikhef
Programme management Prof.dr. R.J.M. Snellings
Duration 1998-2014
Cost estimate M€ 13.5

To find the phase transition from hadronic matter to a deconfined quark-gluon plasma. To develop and construct a detector for the study of heavy ion collisions.

Background, relevance and implementation
The LHC is designed to also produce collisions between ultra-relativistic heavy ions (e.g. lead on lead). During the collision phase, the very high density and temperature will ‑ according to expectations ‑ cause a phase transition from 'ordinary' hadronic matter to a deconfined quark-gluon plasma, which may resemble the first stage (10 ‑5 s) of our Universe, according to the Big Bang model. 
The ALICE collaboration has built a detector able to detect among others such a phase transi­tion. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by all groups in the year 2000. 
Nikhef, a group at Utrecht University and a group at the institute in Amsterdam, will partici­pate in ALICE. Nikhef is involved in the inner tracker system (ITS) which must be capable of accepting very high multiplicity events. Nikhef has assumed responsibility for the outer two Si strip layers of the ITS, and is leader of an international team that has realized these layers. In 2006 the complete silicon strip detector for the ITS was shipped from Utrecht to CERN and installed in 2007. After commissioning in 2008 and 2009 the detector is now successfully taking part in the measurements of ALICE with p+p and Pb+Pb collisions.
In particular, ALICE is collecting an increasing number of events in Pb+Pb collisions for its study of the quark-gluon plasma, with ≈ 120 µb-1 taken in fall 2011. Exciting results on elliptic flow, jet quenching and charm production have already been obtained with a strong contri­bution from the Nikhef group. ALICE will continue to take data until March 2013 and again at the maximum LHC energy in 2015.
As a preparation for the LHC experiment the group had taken part in heavy ion experiments at lower energies. In the early phase of the programme the group has collaborated in the NA49, NA57 and WA98 experiments at the CERN SPS. From 2002 to 2010 the group was also participating on a very small scale in measurements and data analysis in the STAR experiment at the BNL RHIC accelerator. All these efforts are considered part of the ALICE programme.
Partner in this programme is the UU. 

The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2014.

Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.