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.
In an article published in August 2018 in the journal Nature , the CLAS collaboration of Jefferson Lab (USA) reports an extensive study on short-range correlations between nucleons in different nuclei. The conclusion goes against intuition, indicating that the greater the ratio of neutrons to protons in a nucleus, the greater the speed of protons relative to neutrons. These very fast protons could be a key to understanding the formation of ultra-rich neutron systems like neutron stars and their coalescence first observed a year ago. This phenomenon is all the more important as it could contribute to the creation of the heavy elements of the universe.
In ultra-relativistic heavy ion collisions at CERN's LHC accelerator, a new state of matter is formed: the quark-gluon plasma (QGP). It is a kind of very dense and hot "soup" containing only the most elementary constituents of matter. A few microseconds after the Big Bang, the Universe would have passed through this state. Because of the interactions between its constituents, the QGP flows like a fluid. At the LHC, interactions between constituents of the QGP are so strong that even objects as massive as the charmed quarks are carried away by this flow, as suggested by the measurement of the flow of the J/ψ (particle composed of a charm quark and its antiparticle) of ALICE during the first campaign of the LHC (see highlight 2013). This result has just been confirmed by the ALICE collaboration using data from the new LHC campaign (2015-2018). The precision obtained suggest the need of including new mechanisms in the theoretical models. The Saclay group played a key role in analyzing this data.