In its most common version, muon imaging is intrinsically a 2D technique: the resulting density map is indeed integrated along the observation direction. However, a 3D map can be obtained by combining several projections, like for medical imaging. But in the muon case, the number of projections is dramatically reduced because of the required acquisition time. A 3D algorithm has been recently developed using the Irfu TomoMu setup, within a collaboration between Florence University and Irfu. The 3D structure of the test object has been reconstructed from only 3 points of view, thanks to the high precision of the instrument. This technique will soon be extended to more applications, from reactor dismantling to civil engineering or mining exploration.
As part of the new CLAS spectrometer project for the 12 GeV electron energy upgrade of the Jefferson Lab (USA) IRFU has been conducting R&D for more than 10 years to design and build a new generation tracker, using thin and flexible MICROMEGAS detectors that are now operating with the new CLAS12 spectrometer. After one year of installation, this tracker is operational and meets the expected characteristics with more than 95% detection efficiency and a spatial resolution of less than 100μm. After a dedicated data collection to measure the detector response, the new CLAS12 spectrometer is now collecting data for the DVCS physics experiment, where IRFU also participates and which objective is to measure the internal structure of the proton in three dimensions.
The exceptional success of the tracker project, that results from a close collaboration between IRFU's engineering and physics departments (DEDIP, DIS and DPHN), has been an example for other projects. Let us quote the LHC experiments for particle hunting, the muonic imaging of the pyramids, as well as a transfer of know-how to industry.
The ScanPyramids collaboration has discovered a new void in the heart of the Kheops pyramid. This large vacuum was detected by muonic imaging techniques conducted by three separate teams from Nagoya University (Japan), CEC (Japan) and CEA/IRFU. It is the first discovery of a major internal structure of Kheops since the Middle Ages.
Similar in size to the Great Gallery, an architectural structure located in the heart of the Great Pyramid (47m long, 8m high), this new cavity, called ScanPyramids Big Void, has a minimum length of 30 metres. First observed with nuclear emulsion films installed in the Queen's Chamber (Nagoya University), then detected with a scintillator telescope installed in the same chamber (KEK), it was confirmed with gas detectors, MICROMEGAS, located outside the pyramid (CEA), and thus with a very different angle of view allowing to refine the location of this void. This is the first time that an instrument has detected a cavity located at the bottom of a pyramid from the outside.
These results were published by the ScanPyramids team on November 2, 2017 in the journal Nature.
The Micromesh Gaseous Structure (Micromegas) detectors designed and developed by IRFU researchers have been used increasingly over the past few years in the field of particle and radiation detection for physics research, and show strong potential for nuclear, biomedical and industrial instrumentation applications. Recent R&D efforts have led to the development of new manufacturing processes that improve the performance and scope of application of these detectors. The second generation of Micromegas detectors is already being used in several international physics experiments that have yielded excellent results since the fall of 2008.