DiCon, Caltech Customize LHC Optical Switches
RICHMOND, Calif., Jan. 21, 2011 — The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operated by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the world’s largest particle accelerator. Stretching 17 miles long at its location near Geneva, the scientific instrument boosts protons to nearly light speed and smashes them together for a glimpse of the Higgs boson, or “God Particle.” California Institute of Technology, based in Pasadena, participates in one of the four major experiments at the collider facility, Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), which relies on custom DiCon Fiberoptics optical switches in a critical monitoring system.
The CMS experiment features a precision electromagnetic calorimeter, consisting of 76,000 lead tungstate (PWO) crystals, to detect the Higgs boson. Harsh radiation at the LHC, however, induces variations in crystals transparency and thus impairs the calorimeter precision. A light monitoring system tracks these variations to preserve calorimeter precision. A reliable optical switch that can handle the system’s unique complexities and high pulse intensity is a crucial component of the monitoring system.
The principal investigator on the monitoring light source system, Dr. Ren-yuan Zhu, and his colleagues were entrusted with the duty to find such a switch. The team had been developing scintillating crystals for calorimeters for over three decades, receiving several awards from the Department of Energy. Dr. Zhu contacted DiCon when he learned it had a long tradition of custom solutions and fine products. He collaborated with DiCon to customize a set of GP700 switches. The switches were configured to carry out a number of tasks and fitted with a specialty fiber to address the high energy levels.
“The DiCon fiber optic switches have been operating continuously 24-7, since we started LHC data taking,” Dr. Zhu explained. “Their reliability is critical for the CMS physics program and ‘Higgs hunting.’ Through this program, I hope we can more clearly understand the beginnings of our universe.”
DiCon Fiberoptics is an established leader in the optical communications industry, specializing in high quality optical components, integrated modules, and test equipment. Founded in 1986, DiCon has built a broad portfolio of cutting-edge products that filter, split, attenuate, switch, combine, and monitor light. An innovator of micro-electromechanical systems, thin-film optical coatings, micro-optic design, and advanced packaging, DiCon’s products are used in a broad range of applications including telecom, defense, aerospace, industrial manufacturing, and biomedical industries.
For more information, visit www.diconfiberoptics.com
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