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Title: Electronics for a Picosecond Time-of-flight Measurement

TITLE: Electronics for a Picosecond Time-of-flight Measurement ABSTRACT: Time-of-flight (TOF) detectors have historically been used as part of the particle identification capability of multi-purpose particle physics detectors. An accurate time measurement, combined with a momentum measurement based on the curvature of the track in a magnetic field, is often sufficient to determine the particle's mass, and thus its identity. Such detectors typically have measured the particle flight time extremely precisely, with an uncertainty of one hundred trillionths of a second (also referred to as 100 picoseconds). To put this in perspective it would be like counting all the people on the Earth and getting it right within 1 person! Another use of TOFs is to measure the vertex of the event, which is the location along the beam line where the incoming particles (typically protons) collide. This vertex positon is a well measured quantity for events where the protons collide “head on” as the outgoing particles produced when you blast the proton apart can be used to trace back to a vertex point from which they originated. More frequently the protons just strike a glancing blow and remain intact—in this case they are nearly parallel to the beam and youmore » cannot tell their vertex without this ability to precisely measure the time of flight of the protons. Occasionally both happen in the same event, that is, a central system and two protons are produced. But are they from the same collision, or just a boring background where more than one collision in the same bunch crossing conspire to fake the signal of interest? That’s where the timing of the protons comes into play. The main idea is to measure the time it takes for the two protons to reach TOF detectors positioned equidistant from the center of the main detector. If the vertex is displaced to one side than that detector will measure a shorter time while the other side detector will measure a correspondingly longer time. Taking into account the speed of the particles, which is very close to the speed of light, an accuracy of 100 ps gives a vertex measurement of a few cm or a little more than an inch. At the Large Hadron Collider, where there are up to a hundred billion protons per bunch, and the collision region is compressed to a few inches, that is just not good enough. A higher level of precision is needed to determine whether the vertex of the protons and that of the central system are the same. A factor 10 improvement in the timing measurement to the 10 trillionths of a second level, for example would give the requisite 10 times improvement in the vertex measurement. An accurate measurement of the flight time depends on three key elements: the radiator that produces light when the proton passes through it, the photo-sensor that converts the light to an electrical signal, and the electronics that convert this electrical signal into a time measurement with a compact recordable format. With recent improvements in detector design featuring a series of quartz radiators connected to a micro-channel plate photomultiplier tube, this superior measurement capability is within reach if the readout electronics are sufficiently performant. As a result of the funding of this proposal, we have achieved our primary goals. 1) We have developed from scratch or improved upon existing designs of the full chain of electronics that can maintain the performance of a TOF detector from the output of the photo-sensor to the recording of a compressed data packet containing the timing information. We have accomplished this with a cost effective modular approach such that some or all of the components in the chain could easily be adapted for use in diverse particle physics experiments or in other areas where precise timing is required, such as medical and homeland security devices.« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. University of Texas, Arlington
  2. Stony Brook
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Texas, Arlington
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP) (SC-25)
Country of Publication:
United States
72 PHYSICS OF ELEMENTARY PARTICLES AND FIELDS Detector; Research; Picosecond; Timing; Electronics