New Initiatives in detector R&D – 2020 awardees

Fermilab recently developed a five-year strategic plan for detector R&D. Going forward, we will strategically boost our efforts in the areas of picosecond timing detectors, noble-element detectors and blue sky R&D. These areas are guided by the plan outlined in the Basic Research Needs for Detectors report (to be published) and are well-aligned with Fermilab’s mission, facilities and technical expertise.

In April we initiated the New Initiatives, an annual, competitive call for proposals to attract new members and ideas to the detector R&D community at the lab. The call is directed toward the three strategic areas listed above. There was great resonance to the April call, which will enable principal investigators to perform demonstrator stages of their ideas. This in turn could enable them to successfully apply for additional funding, such as Laboratory-Directed Research and Development funding or the DOE Early Career Research Award.

We received 16 submissions and are happy to announce the three New Initiatives awards. The PIs for all three selected proposals are new additions to Fermilab’s detector R&D team.

Using MicroBooNE to uniquely study doping large liquid-argon TPCs

PIs: Andy Mastbaum (Rutgers University), Matthew Toups (Fermilab), Joseph Zennamo (Fermilab)

Andrew Mastbaum

Matthew Toups

Joseph Zennamo

In order to study low-energy phenomena in large liquid-argon time projection chambers, or TPCs, the team will use the MicroBooNE detector to study effects of doping of the liquid argon with xenon, radon and nitrogen. The measurements will focus on energy calibration and resolution, impact on diffusion and drift velocity, and reconstruction efficiency of radon decay daughters. MicroBooNE is a unique location to study the impact of these dopants thanks to its long drift length, detailed calibration, understanding of the detector response, and a cosmic ray tagger system that enables the study of the detector response with time- and location-tagged muons. This study is different from the ProtoDUNE xenon-doping as it allows the controlled injection of nitrogen, which can mimic cryogenic failure and gives a measure for the robustness of the detector against nitrogen contamination. If successful, this technique could be deployed in the fourth DUNE module.

Initial evaluation of electron proportional scintillation in xenon-doped liquid argon using thin wires

PI: Wei Mu (Fermilab)

Wei Mu

This effort aims to achieve charge amplification in liquid argon instead of in gaseous argon. This could lead to simplified designs of liquid-argon TPCs with many advantages over dual-phase detectors; all the limitations due to the extraction of electrons into the gas phase would be avoided, since the liquid surface does not need to be crossed. The goal is to achieve charge amplification via the electron proportional scintillation process in xenon-doped liquid argon using thin wires. The proportional scintillation requires a lower electric field and avoids electron avalanches, reducing the heat input around the anode and potential bubbles. If the idea is proven successful, the proportional scintillation process will lower the energy threshold of liquid-argon TPC detectors and be a promising application in the field of low-energy particle physics.



Advanced silicon timing sensors for future trackers

PIs: Artur Apresyan, Karri DiPetrillo, Ryan Heller (all Fermilab)

Artur Apresyan

Karri DiPetrillo

Ryan Heller

Tracking detectors at future hadron colliders will face profound technological challenges. For example, the proposed Future Circular Collider calls for 5-picosecond per-track time resolution and 5-micrometer per-hit spatial resolution in order to disentangle the expected 1,000 simultaneous interactions per bunch crossing. This effort will build on the recent advancements in precision timing technology based on low-gain avalanche detectors, or LGADs. The plan is to study two novel technologies that extend the LGAD concept to include precise spatial resolution: trench-isolated LGADs and AC-coupled LGADs. The team will develop readout electronics for a multichannel setup at the Fermilab test beam and at the timing lab at SiDet. If successful, the next step would be a multilayer tracker demonstrator, for which LDRD funding would be sought.

Petra Merkel is the Fermilab detector R&D coordinator.