Exchange of equipment between CERN and JINR

The drift chambers of the former NA48 experiment have recently left CERN to be installed in the MPD experiment at the future NICA accelerator in Dubna, Russia. As a counterpart, the JINR Laboratory will produce drift chambers for the new NA62 experiment. This operation is a fruitful exchange of technology that profits both laboratories and enhances their collaboration.


On 22 July, in the occasion of the departure of the chambers from CERN, Mikhail Itkis (centre), acting Director of the JIINR visited the NA62 experimental area accompanied by Rolf Heuer (left), CERN Director General and Ferdinand Hahn, NA62 technical Co-ordinator.

The NA48 drift chambers were overhauled in 2000 and employed until 2008. With a total of 110 kilometres of wire soldered to a very high degree of precision, the four drift chambers were a crucial element of the experimental kaon programme at CERN. The chambers are now moving to a new challenge as they will be re-used by the Multi Purpose Detector (MPD) experiment, under construction in the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, and dedicated to the study of the properties of hadrons.

Despite their very good performance, the NA48 chambers cannot be used for the new NA62 experiment studying ultra-rare kaon decays at the SPS. “One of the requirements for the new NA62 experiment is to minimise the multiple scattering introduced by the spectrometer: the new chambers will allow us to improve the missing mass resolution by about a factor of two”, explains Augusto Ceccucci, NA62 spokesperson.

As the chambers leave CERN to serve the MPD experiment, experts at JINR are developing the new chambers for NA62. “The first of the four drift chamber stations for NA62 is currently being engineered at CERN but the straw tube technology was developed at JINR in Russia where the mass production will take place”, says Augusto Ceccucci. Unlike the NA48 chambers, the NA62 detectors use straws and they can be installed directly in the kaon decay tank under vacuum.

The MPD experiment is not the only example of collaboration where high quality equipment is re-employed to address a new challenge. For instance, NA62 itself will use the lead-glass blocks from the electromagnetic calorimeter of OPAL, one of the LEP experiments, and also the NA48’s liquid krypton calorimeter. “Using previously developed equipment when possible helps us reduce the overall cost of the experiment and ensures high reliability because the detector is well understood”, confirms Augusto Ceccucci.

The chambers have now safely arrived in Dubna, where they will be tested again and finally installed at the MPD experiment. No doubt CERN and JINR will continue to benefit from the fruit of their successful collaboration.

Further reading about NICA/MPD:




by CERN Bulletin