by Panos Charitos. Published: 16 November 2013

In order to cope with the higher luminosities expected at the LHC after the Long Shutdown 2, several ALICE detectors will be upgraded. Part of this effort is the design and building of a new ASIC chip for the muon chambers as well as for the new TPC. The ALICE Brazilian team has been actively involved in the ALICE upgrade plans.

The ALICE Brazilian team in the Physics Department of the University of São Paulo is closely working with colleagues from the Engineering School for the design of the new chip. Professor Wilhelmus Noije and PhD student Hugo Hernandez are exploring different concepts that will allow the new chip to meet the requirements of the LS3 runs.

The new chip will handle higher luminosities and each channel will be able to read 10 Megasamples/sec. More specifically, analog signals are converted to a stream of numbers, each representing the analog signal’s amplitude at a moment in time, and each of these numbers is called a “sample”.

Furthermore, a second special feature of the new chip is that it will be able to run continuously and record data without the need for triggering. This is needed as in the run 3 period, heavy-ion collision rates will reach 50 kHz and ALICE physics programme includes measurements of non-triggerable events which means that the TPC will have to run in a continuous readout mode. The continuous running means that things will become faster but also that more data will be recorded.

Following this step, the ALICE-Brazilian team will perform some tests of the new chip in order to ensure that it will run smoothly both with the ALICE muon chambers and with the new GEM detectors for the TPC. In order to run these tests, a new laboratory has been set up in the Physics Department where colleagues from the Physics and the Engineering department often meet to discuss the next steps.

A new laboratory in the University of São Paulo for testing the new chip.

Brazil’s State Funding Agency, FAPESPI, recently decided to fund two projects: one is about the design of the chip and the second is on computing. Most of the funding will be directed for computing resources that Brazil provides for ALICE. However, a significant amount will be allocated for the design and testing of the new chip.

To contribute in this effort, two post-docs have recently joined the group to work on the new project. Marco Bregant from Italy and Pedro Hugo Natal da Luz from Portugal. Marco, who arrived in Brazil earlier in August, will provide feedback from a physicist’s point of view during the tests while Pedro, who is starting in January, will be mainly responsible for the GEM chamber setup and tests.

Hopefully the first results will be presented in the first half of 2014, in accordance with the ALICE upgrade plans. We are all looking forward to seeing them.