Experts outlined plans for the development of infrastructure for applied research at NICA

News, 19 May 2023

Specialists at the Laboratory of High Energy Physics JINR are developing a project “ARIADNA: Applied Research at the NICA Complex”. On 12 May, at a seminar held at the Laboratory, its participants considered the status of the project’s implementation, immediate plans for the development of relevant scientific directions and research infrastructure, including intentions to equip an irradiation stand at the BM@N experimental zone. Specialists discussed technical parameters of the equipment process of the project’s applied stations, in particular, such as energy ranges of beams for applied research. A separate topic was the cooperation development within the framework of the ARIADNA collaborations that have begun their work. Deputy Head of the VBLHEP JINR Department of Methodological Research and Innovation Oleg Belov and Head of the Department Sergey Tuituinnikov are leaders of the project.

At the VBLHEP seminar, Oleg Belov spoke about the structure of the project, its scientific and methodological tasks. He also shared information on scientific and technical groundwork laid by specialists and the cooperation development within the framework of the ARIADNA collaboration. Participants of the event discussed technical peculiaroties of equipping the project’s applied stations.

Scientists conducted the first applied research at high-energy beams of the NICA Complex during the commissioning run at the NICA Accelerator Complex held in December 2022 – January 2023. To perform the research, they equipped a stand at the BM@N experimental zone, allowing them to use extracted beams from the Nuclotron simultaneously with the operation of the physical facility. In the future, to conduct applied research, specialists will need three energy range of a beam of heavy charged particles. For this purpose, they will equip the SIMBO, ISCRA, SHINE stations, and the SOCHi station already developed by them. Participants of the seminar noted that experts were commissioning the SOCHi station at the moment, preparing the equipment for ISCRA. They have prepared the equipment for the SIMBO station. Specialists ordered channels for the stations in France. Their delivery is currently presenting particular difficulties, so the equipment has been re-ordered in China.

“The first experiments have shown that it is necessary to prepare locations to use the user equipment,” Oleg Belov commented. Modular laboratory rooms for working on the different directions of the ARIADNA collaborations can be one of the solutions of this problem. Specialists offer to place them in the VBLHEP building 216.

The ARIADNA collaboration currently includes 152 participants from 18 scientific centres of JINR Member States. In addition, 3 more institutes are preparing to join it. It is expected that specialists will conduct a wide range of experiments in the scientific directions of ARIADNA such as radiation safety in space, radiation effects in microelectronics, radiation biophysics, general radiobiology and related tasks of radiation therapy, research on ADS systems, radiation materials science and material research under extreme conditions.

Scientists have already started some work. They irradiated different materials with heavy xenon ions to test their radiation resistance and assess structural changes during the last run at NICA. The NICA Complex is a unique tool to model radiation conditions of a space flight. For example, during the last run, scientists irradiated composite materials promising for the development of radiation protection of astronauts’ cabins at the orbital station. As part of tasks in radiation materials science, they assessed structural changes in samples of modern polymer materials and sapphires. “In addition to the expected scientific results of the run, an important methodological conclusion of the run is that we can work in a new equipped zone,” Oleg Belov summed up.

Location of the sample irradiation stand at the BM@N experimental zone

To additionally equip the beam extraction area from the BM@N Facility, it is proposed to carry out a number of research and development tasks to diagnose a beam in order to locate a complex of diagnostic and dosimetry equipment and a compact automated sample change system here.

The main risks of implementing the project are connected with a limited amount of beam time to perform research at the NICA Complex and other JINR accelerators. To reduce such risks, specialists are going to increase the number of irradiation areas that allow them to work at other physical facilities at the same time.