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ACTAR TPC Report Summary

Project ID: 335593
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Mid-Term Report Summary - ACTAR TPC (Active Target and Time Projection Chamber)

The active target and time projection chamber (ACTAR TPC) is a novel gas-filled detection system that will permit new studies into the structure and decays of the most exotic nuclei. The use of a gas volume that acts as a sensitive detection medium and as the reaction target itself (an “active target”) offers considerable advantages over traditional nuclear physics detectors and techniques. In high-energy physics, TPC detectors have found profitable applications but their use in nuclear physics has been limited. With the ACTAR TPC design, individual detection pad sizes of 2×2 mm2 are the smallest ever attempted in either discipline but this is a requirement for high-efficiency and high-resolution nuclear spectroscopy. The corresponding large number of electronic channels (16000 from a surface of only 25×25 cm) requires new developments in high-density electronics and data-acquisition systems that have only now become available in the nuclear physics domain. New experiments in regions of the nuclear chart that cannot be presently contemplated will become feasible with ACTAR TPC.

The main objective of the ACTAR TPC project is to design and construct a state-of-the-art gas filled detection system for nuclear physics experiment. The ultimate scientific goal of the project is to use this novel detector to perform 3 key experiments using accelerated beams of rare isotopes. The first experiment will be focused on studying the decay modes of an excited resonance in 18Ne that plays a key role in the 14O(α,p)17F reaction rate. This reaction is one of two possible break-out pathways from the HCNO cycle that occurs in explosive astrophysical environments such as novae and X-ray bursts. The second experiment will probe the nature of the decay mechanism for nuclei that decay by a very rare and only recently discovered decay mode known as 2-proton radioactivity. The final experiment will focus on studying the evolution of the nuclear force towards extreme neutron-rich nuclear matter using elastic scattering and nucleon transfer reactions. Each of these 3 experiments will be performed at different European rare isotope beam facilities (SPIRAL1 at GANIL, LISE at GANIL, and ISOLDE at CERN, respectively). All of these experiments were selected based upon their scientific importance and the potential impact that their results could provide to the domain of nuclear physics. All of these experiments cannot be performed with conventional detectors and techniques.

The first half of the project (covered by this mid-term report) was primarily focused on the detector design as well as the software and hardware developments required to operate the final system. The project is on time and on budget and the first experiment with ACTAR TPC will be performed in early 2017.

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