Carnegie Mellon University
December 30, 2014

GlueX Detector Journey highlighted in MCS Science Connection

GlueXIt was almost like sending a child off to college—after 17 years of work, Carnegie Mellon Professor Curtis Meyer watched as the particle detector that he and his colleagues had constructed in Wean Hall was packed up, loaded into a moving van and sent off to its new home, the Jefferson Lab National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Va. The detector will aid in the search for hybrid mesons, particles that can help us to understand the glue that holds everyday matter together.   This journey was recently highlighted in the December issue of MCS Science Connection.

Seventeen years ago, Physics Professor Curtis Meyer and colleagues from an international group of universities and national labs started to plan the GlueX experiment, a project that endeavors to help physicists answer one of the most fundamental questions in physics: how do quarks bind together to form the building blocks of matter?

But as every physicist knows, to study elements of matter as small as quarks, you needone of the largest and most expensive pieces of equipment known to science—a particle accelerator. GlueX is a member of the next generation of experiments to be done with the Continuous Beam Electron Accelerator housed at the Jefferson Lab National Accelerator Facility (JLab) in Newport News, Va. The accelerator became operational in 1994. In 1997, researchers began to think about what would be next for the accelerator. They decided that they’d use the facility to search for hybrid mesons, a theoretical particle that can be used to understand gluons, the particles that bind matter together.

But, in order to accelerate particles at an energy high enough to study the gluons, the scientists knew that the accelerator would have to undergo a significant upgrade. They embarked on a $340M project that would increase the accelerator’s energy from 6 billion electron volts (GeV) to 12GeV. As part of the upgrade, they constructed a new experimental building, Hall D, that houses a new, state-of-the-art experiment made up of particle detectors that will capture signals created by subatomic particles. One of the detectors, called the central drift chamber (CDC), was constructed at Carnegie Mellon by Meyer’s research group in his Wean Hall lab.

For more of the story, visit the December issue of MCS Science Connection.