Some of the universe’s greatest secrets could be cracked thanks to technology developed by York scientists.
University of York experts are part of a team developing new detector technology needed for the next powerful particle accelerator, the electron-ion collider (EIC).
To be built at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the United States, the EIC will allow mankind to address fundamental unsolved questions about the nature of matter.
The new facility will allow scientists to image in detail elementary particles like quarks and gluons, and to study how they move and interact with one another.
York scientists will use new technologies from chemistry and medical research to help with the particle detector design.
Technologies developed by the University of York’s Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance – previously only used in medical research – will be utilised for the first time in a particle/nuclear physics facility.
The programme will exploit York’s expertise in polarimetry – a technique used to measure the orientation of a particle’s spin.
Professor Simon Duckett, from the Department of Chemistry, said “Back in the 1960s, the creation of spin-polarised probes provided us with a tantalising opportunity to study particle interactions.
“It is only now though, by harnessing a simple low-cost technology developed in York, we expect to be able to fully unlock this capability through the creation of a versatile polarised particle detector.”
The science enabled by the EIC promises to revolutionise the understanding of the ‘strong interaction’, one of the fundamental forces of nature.
This force governs the behaviour of hadrons – the family of subatomic particles that includes protons and neutrons – that is behind more than 99% of the visible mass of the universe.
Scientists will use the EIC to try to find out how the strong interaction works as a glue to hold matter together.
It is expected that construction of the accelerator and its detectors will commence around 2023/24, once the design is complete.