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CRYSBEAM Report Summary

Project ID: 615089
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Mid-Term Report Summary - CRYSBEAM (Crystal channeling to extract a high energy hadron beam from an accelerator)

Particle accelerators are complex machines able to increase the velocity of electrically charged elementary particles (like protons) up to a value very close to the speed of light. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is the most powerful machine in operation today, able to accelerate beams of protons up to an energy of 6.5 TeV (that is equivalent to a velocity 99.9999991% times the speed of light!).
Such accelerated particles are usually handled with very special and big magnets. Instead, by using small and thin bent crystals a novel way to manipulate these high energy beams has been studied by the CRYSBEAM team in the context of the UA9 experiment at CERN. Protons (or charged ions) are in fact trapped within the crystal lattice planes by the effective electric field of all the ordered atoms in the crystal. Since the macroscopic bending of the crystal also causes a bending of the lattice planes, the trapped particles are emerging deflected at a well-defined angle. The CRYSBEAM team built and tested a number of crystals at the CERN beam test facilities. Eventually one crystal installed on the LHC was successfully proved to be able to deflect the LHC beam by 50 microrad at the end of 2015. This was an important milestone for the CRYSBEAM project that is now concentrating in building crystals with larger bending angles (up to 1 mrad) but still efficient in deflecting the beam. Very promising results have already been obtained in this direction.
At the same time detector prototypes able to monitor the deflected beam inside the ultra-high vacuum beam pipe of the accelerator have been designed, built, calibrated and installed on the SPS accelerator at CERN thanks to the work of the CRYSBEAM team. They were in fact used to measure the flux of the deflected particles by a bent crystal in various dedicated data-taking periods, showing a sub-ns timing resolution and sub-mm position resolution.
This research activity was complemented by a series of technological advances (for example magneto-rheological finishing of silicon wafers, Cherenkov light production and transmission in micro-machined silica slab).
During the 2016 an interest for the application of crystals in beam manipulation has raised at CERN. In fact, during a recent workshop at CERN discussing new research opportunities (Physics Beyond Collisions, Sep 2016) several talks proposed the use of bent crystals. The exploitation of an extracted LHC beam has been proposed for several new measurements of the interaction of the high energy LHC proton with a target. This would eventually open the possibility to reach another goal of CRYSBEAM, that is measuring the interaction cross sections relevant to understand the nature of the high energy cosmic ray showers we observe in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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