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Muon spectrometers for experiment of CERN

A new generation of spectrometers for the research of a pioneering institute.

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is a groundbreaking institution that has had a significant impact in the field of electronics. This German company is wholly dedicated to advancements in electronics. The institute has set an unprecedented world record with its 10-micron precision in wire positioning.

The company conducts fundamental research, with a focus on elementary particle physics and astro-particle physics. As part of the ATLAS experiment, the MPP requires very thin-walled aluminium tubes with high precision. These alumibnium tubes, also known as drift tubes, form the core of a new generation of muon detectors in the ATLAS experiment at CERN. The previous generation of spectrometers played a role in the detection of the famous Higgs boson in 2012, for which Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013.

Engineers and scientists are currently assembling eight of these modern detectors. Their improved performance will already play a role in the upcoming measurement phase (3rd run from 2022 to 2023). In total, 100 of these detectors will be built over the next three years at the MPP and Fermilab in the USA, in collaboration with universities there. They will be integrated into ATLAS during the next long shutdown from 2024 to 2027.

Unprecedented precision in the new generation of spectrometers.

“The new drift tubes have a diameter of 15 mm, only half of the earlier models. The signals can now be read within 200 nanoseconds, which is four times faster than before. This means that the drift tubes and their electronics are exposed to neutron and gamma radiation, which is ubiquitous in the ATLAS detector, for less time – and therefore can react to muons 10 times faster,” explains Dr. Hubert Kroha, project leader at MPP.

An essential contribution to the high spatial resolution is provided by the incredible mechanical precision of the muon chambers. During the construction of the chambers, the positions of the counting wires in the middle of the drift tubes are assembled with an accuracy of 5 micrometers. For comparison, a human hair is about 100 micrometers thick.

These extruded aluminium tubes have very high demands regarding thin wall thickness (0.4 mm), roundness, and concentricity within 0.1 mm, and low surface roughness, all of which are far beyond regular standards. There were concerns about the feasibility of producing such tubes.

Mifa Masterclass Precision Extrusion

“During a Masterclass at the Mifa academy, we learned about the unique possibilities in precision extrusion at Mifa. This enabled us to, in good collaboration with Mifa, construct a tube with the right specifications, achieving the next step for our new generation muon spectrometers. Additionally, we could also have the surface treatment carried out by them, allowing us to have only one point of contact.”

Mifa organizes these Masterclasses for engineers and designers to share our knowledge about the possibilities of aluminium precision extrusion. Inspiration and knowledge take center stage during the Mifa Masterclasses. In the masterclass, you’ll learn how to optimally use aluminium precision extrusion to develop a better profile and ultimately a better end product. There’s a possible additional benefit of lower costs thanks to efficient designs. You can participate in an online masterclass for free.

Mifa delivers unparalleled precision

At Mifa, everything revolves around knowledge and technology. With our extensive machinery and expertise in aluminium and magnesium profiles, we produce the most accurate profiles. In collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Physics, we worked on the ATLAS Detector Project at CERN Geneva. A project where Mifa’s precision extrusion with tolerances of ±0.02 mm and very thin wall thickness provides the Max Planck Institute for Physics with unprecedented possibilities.

The ATLAS project requires unparalleled precision for all components. Specifically for this reason, the Max Planck Institute for Physics chooses to have the aluminium profiles made at Mifa. The design requires a wall thickness of 0.4 mm, with minimal tolerance. Common standards for the extrusion of aluminium profiles often allow deviations of ±0.15 mm. Mifa can extrude with an accuracy of ±0.02 mm. This was the reason why the Max Planck Institute for Physics chose Mifa as a partner for this challenging project.

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Surface treatments for special purity

In addition to the precision that Mifa provides, there is another reason why the Max Planck Institute for Physics chose Mifa. To protect the aluminium profile, the product undergoes a surface treatment. The surface treatment is a chemical processing of the metal surface. The layer applied to the profile, called Surtec, ensures, among other things, that the profile is protected against corrosion.

At Mifa, we not only have expertise in machining, precision extrusion, and assembly, but thanks to the fully automated large and small production lines of Mifa Surface Treatment, we are capable of taking full responsibility for the entire surface treatment process. This ultimately saves time and costs in the overall process.

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Special packaging

In collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Physics, Mifa has developed a special packaging to protect the high-tech profiles during transportation. Thanks to the customized packaging, all products remain perfectly in place.

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