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An ATLAS of the World

ATLAS, whose name stands for 'A Toroidal LHC Apparatus' is an ambitions and powerful large multi-purpose experiment for the LHC. It will explore new domains of fundamental particle physics. The detector is constructed and financed by a worldwide collaboration from 150 institutions in 34 countries.

The ATLAS detector will be 22 metres high, 45 metres long and weigh some 7000 tons. In an unprecedented way it will combine front-line technologies from many areas, ranging from highly integrated semiconductor micro-detectors, high-speed data transmission and processing, to one of the largest superconducting magnet structures ever built.

Science and technologies are shared within the collaborating institutes and countries. A pioneering role in making it possible to benefit from all talents in the collaboration is being played by the ISTC and INTAS programmes.

The ATLAS detector, for example, requires some 80 tons of plastic material, called scintillators, which glow when charged particles pass through it. In ATLAS they will be used in the shape of tiles to form a part of the detector called the hadronic calorimeter. This will measure the energy of particles emerging from collisions between LHC protons.

The Russian Institute of High Energy Physics at Serpukhov, IHEP, is a major ATLAS partner, bringing with it a long tradition of expertise in scintillator technology. IHEP has adapted plastics industry processes to the production of scintillators for particle physics. The result is a calorimeter design which has proved extremely popular, and which has been chosen for the ATLAS hadronic calorimeter.

The face of a young scientist is clearly visible through a stack of 10 centimetre-thick plastic scintillator tiles produced in Portugal for use in the ATLAS detector.

Portugal has a strong plastics industry, but Portuguese companies are less experienced in working with the stringent demands for optical quality made by particle physics. Through the ATLAS collaboration, Portuguese industry and Russian scintillator know-how are being brought together.

Under an ISTC agreement, Portuguese and Russian concerns will collaborate to produce the half a million scintillating tiles required by ATLAS, bringing benefits to both partners and ensuring that the physicists' exacting demands are met.

Optical-fibre readout of the ATLAS Tile


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