Admissions 2018

IIT-Madras to help CERN unravel mysteries of universe

CHENNAI: In 2025, when scientists at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, start looking for signs of a new charged particle from the massive 14,000tonne CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector installed in France, a silicon tracker detector built by Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) will be among the key tools. Data from the main detector 100m below ground may help scientists understand the evolution of the universe better.
The silicon detector made by IIT-M will replace the existing detector when it dies out by 2025. IIT-M professor Prafulla Kumar Behera, who is the co-convenor, B-physics subgroup in CMS, said the institute would build part of the silicon detector in col laboration with other Indian institutes. The silicon detector will be one of the four subdetectors in the main CMS detector. “IIT-M will fabricate highprecision mechanics made of aluminum carbon fibre and carbon fibre. They are lightweight material that support structure for the sensors in the detector,” he said.
This is not the first time a detector for CERN is being built in India. A part of a detector for the Large Hadron Collider, which helped scientists discover Higgs Boson in 2012, was built in India.
A CMS detector is designed to see a wide range of particles produced during high-energy collision of protons. When this happens, scientists will essentially be recreating a very small model of the state of the universe when it was in the first tril lionth of a second after the Big Bang. The silicon detector, which will be installed near the collision point, will give the position of the particle when it travelled through the detector. The magnetic field in the CMS detector will help find the momentum of the particle. For physicists, this data is the key as it will help draw a picture of events at the heart of the collision.

IIT-M became the first IIT to be made a full member of the experiment at CERN in 2014 involved in validation of the high level trigger and silicon tracker calibration. The team comprises four faculty members and nine students. arlier this week, India became an associate E member of the organisation after being inducted as an observer in 2004. IIT-Madras is also likely to be one of the silicon sensor qualification centres. Two scientists from CERN recently visited the campus along with faculty from collaborating institutes. Behera said that India will also manufacture 2000 of the total 10,000 sensors in the silicon detector.

A production centre will be set up for the purpose. It will be one of the five centres that will manufacture the sensors, the others will be in countries including Germany and the US. India is the seventh largest country in the CMS collaboration which comprises 3,200 scientists and engineers and 800 students from 190 institutions across 42 countries. Apart from IIT-M, Indian collaborators include TIFR, BARC, Delhi University , Punjab University , NISER, IISER in Pune, IISC and SINP.