The ALICE Experiment
ALICE is the acronym for A Large Ion Collider Experiment, one of the largest experiments in the world devoted to research in the physics of matter at an infinitely small scale. Hosted at CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research, this project involves an international collaboration of more than 2200 physicists, engineers and technicians, including around 200 graduate students, from 171 physics institutes in 40 countries across the world. The collaboration includes several Italian Universities and INFN Sections: Alessandria, Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Catania, Padova, Pavia, Salerno, Torino, Trieste, and the Frascati National Laboratory for a total of 200 physicists and technologists, including more than 20 PHD students.
ALICE is optimized to study heavy-ion collisions at ultra-relativistic energies. The resulting temperature and energy density are expected to be high enough to produce quark–gluon plasma, a state of matter wherein quarks and gluons are free. Similar conditions are believed to existed a fraction of the second after the Big Bang, before quarks and gluons bound together to form hadrons and heavier particles.
The ALICE Detector
Located 50 m underground on the LHC ring, the ALICE detector is 16 m high, 26 m long, and weighs about 10 000 tons. The apparatus includes a magnetic solenoid and several detectors, the most part contained within the magnet and arranged in cylindrical symmetry around the axis of the LHC beams. This allows to detect, with high efficiency, the multitude of different particles produced in the ion-ion collisions at very high energy.
Besides the magnet there are the muon spectrometer, the detectors dedicated to the trigger and calorimetric measurements at small angles and the detectors dedicated to cosmic rays.