Particle Physics: NICA project and other themes

News, 10 February 2022

On 24 January, the 56th meeting of the Programme Advisory Committee for Particle Physics was held. Due to the world pandemic, the event had the video conference format with a reduced agenda.

PAC PP Chairman I. Tserruya reported on the implementation of the recommendations of the previous PAC meeting. JINR Vice-Director V. Kekelidze provided information on the Recommendations of the 130th session of the JINR Scientific Council and decisions of the Committee of Plenipotentiaries. He noted that the Scientific Council had supported all the PAC recommendations related to new projects and prolongation of the current ones in the fields of particle physics within the proposed timeframe.

A series of reports on the progress in the implementation of the NICA project with an account of the pandemic started with a talk by Deputy Head of the Accelerator Department A. O. Sidorin. He presented the current status of the Nuclotron-NICA project. In particular, he noted that the booster synchrotron systems had been brought to the design parameters, an iron beam had been accelerated up to the design energy of 578 MeV/nucleon, heavy ion beam had been cooled down by electronic cooling for the first time in Russia. Employees of JINR and the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP SB RAS) successfully completed joint development of the system of extraction channels and beam transportation from the Booster to the Nuclotron. Specialists started the operation of the SOCHi station equipment, i.e. an important component of the programme of applied research and innovations at NICA. It aims to irradiate microcircuits with beams from the HILAC accelerator. The PAC members congratulated the team of the NICA project on installing the first superconducting magnet in the collider’s tunnel. They highlighted that the important event had marked the start of the collider’s assembling and preparations for the commissioning of the facility.

VBLHEP Chief Engineer N. N. Agapov presented the report on the progress in the development of the VBLHEP infrastructure, including the Nuclotron facility. The Committee was satisfied to note that despite problems caused by the pandemic, the reconstruction of electrical networks was underway, and the Laboratory got licensed to bring eleven modernised substations with a total capacity of 33,6 MW into operation. New cryogenic equipment has been installed at the central compressor station: a helium liquefier with a capacity of more than 1,000 litres per hour, a helium refrigerator for the Booster cooling with a capacity of 2,000 Watts at a temperature of 4.5 K, four helium purification units, a nitrogen liquefier with a capacity of 1,300 kg/h and a nitrogen vapour recondenser from the Booster screens with a capacity of 500 kg/h. In addition, large cryogenic equipment is ready for operation outdoors: a container with a volume of 400 cubic metres for liquid helium and gas tanks with a volume of 1,000 cubic metres for gaseous helium and nitrogen storage.

The main thesis of the report by Head of the MPD Collaboration A. Kisiel on the implementation of the project was that the production of all the components of the MPD first stage detector configuration was proceeding successfully. Commissioning of the time-projection chamber and time-of-flight system with reading electronics is scheduled for completion this year. 800 modules of the electromagnetic calorimeter will be produced by the end of the year in Russia. China will produce the same number of them as well. It corresponds to 16 out of 25 sectors of the ECal electromagnetic calorimeter necessary for full azimuth coverage. Experts of the Programme Advisory Committee took into account the key role of the ECal for the MPD physical programme and recommended the leaders of the project to accelerate the production of the sectors left. The PAC also congratulated the team on the start of tests of the large superconducting solenoid.

The PAC members highly appreciated the progress in the fulfilment of the BM@N project presented by Head of the BM@N collaboration, Head of the VBLHEP Sector M. N. Kapishin. The team focuses on preparing detectors for runs of the BM@N detector with heavy-ion beams scheduled for 2022. A part of them is being produced, others have already been tested or installed at BM@N. Participants of the meeting noted the successful implementation of the PAC recommendations for using carbon vacuum tube to reduce the background.

A. Bressan (University of Trieste, Italy) spoke about the work of the SPD Detector Advisory Committee. It should be reminded that at the 54th PAC meeting, the conceptual project of the SPD experiment on the study of the spin structure of proton and deuteron was presented. It was recommended to establish an advisory committee to evaluate the project, its development, and subsequent implementation. The International Detector Advisory Committee (SPD DAC) was established in April 2021. A. Bressan headed it. There were several meetings held with SPD project employees, participants of which discussed the concept of the detector, the NICA complex infrastructure for polarised beams, as well as possibilities of interaction between the SPD and MPD experiments. As a result, the SPD conceptual design was improved, specialists clarified the configuration of the placement of the detectors. The PAC members approved the concept and recommended the team of the SPD project proceeding to drafting the technical design of the facility.

Reports on the research results obtained by the JINR groups in the LHC experiments continued the agenda of the meeting. E. P. Rogochaya made a report on the ALICE experiment. E. V. Khramov presented information on physical results of the ATLAS experiment. New results and current activities of the JINR team in the CMS experiment were presented by V. Yu. Karzhavin. In general, the PAC members noted a significant contribution made by the teams within the modernisation programme of the experimental base. They were satisfied to note the growing scientific importance and more active participation in physical analyses of all three JINR teams participating in the LHC experiments.

There were 28 poster presentations made by young scientists from VBLHEP, MLIT, and DLNP at the meeting. The quality of conducted studies presented in them received appreciation. Two reports “Deep learning methods and software for particle track reconstruction” by Pavel Goncharov and “Creation of the ARIADNA applied research station at the NICA accelerator complex” by Alexey Slivin will be presented at the February session of the Scientific Council.