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Detector Options for the ILC

Silicon Detector If built, the International Linear Collider will hurl tiny electrons and positrons down 26 miles of accelerator, colliding the particles at the center in a microscopic explosion. But what good is it all if you can’t see it happen?

Because of the subtle nature of the ILC’s proposed work, its detectors will need to collect much more detailed information than any previous detector. In the next five years or so, physicists will decide between several options for the best type of detector for the international collider.

Scientists in three regions of the world are currently designing three different detectors. Two of the concepts, the primarily European-based Large Detector Concept (LDC) and the predominantly Asian Global Large Detector (GLD), rely on large calorimeters: gas-based detectors. North American scientists, such as the ones at SLAC, are mostly focusing on a smaller, more precise silicon detector (SiD).

A silicon detector would use a few compact layers of silicon to track and measure charged particles kicked off from the collision point. SLAC's Norman Graf said that although silicon trackers are already used in collider detectors such as Fermilab’s DZero and CDF and SLAC’s BaBar, ILC requirements are different.

Silicon detector development for the ILC will focus on streamlining the technology. “The main thing we’re trying to do now is to make the layers of silicon and supports as thin as possible,” Graf said. By making these layers thinner, researchers hope to achieve high resolution needed for such precision measurements.

The only disadvantage of the silicon detector is that it takes fewer measurements per track than the other detector concepts. Graf hopes smaller size and more precision will beat out the larger number of measurements.

In March, North American scientists will join their international colleagues in Bangalore, India, to showcase the various technologies. Graf declined to guess which technology would be selected, saying the decision was at least several years off.

“It’s not like you walk down to Radio Shack or Fry’s and buy one of these,” he said. “There’s still an enormous amount of R&D that we have to do.”

—Erik Vance
    SLAC Today, February 28, 2006