The winners of the 2017 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society
The 2017 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society winners. From left to right: Erik Heijne, Robert Klanner, Gerhard Lutz.
The 2017 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society (EPS) has been awarded to Erik H.M. Heijne, Robert Klanner, and Gerhard Lutz “for their pioneering contributions to the development of silicon microstrip detectors that revolutionised high-precision tracking and vertexing in high energy physics experiments”. The winners will be presented during the EPS HEP2017 conference, in Venice, from 5-12 July. The prize ceremony is scheduled on 10 July.
The progress of science is closely linked with the development of experimental methods and technology. For nuclear physics and later on for particle physics a variety of detectors has been used, such as ionisation counters, nuclear emulsions, bubble chambers and scintillators. The invention of gaseous multiwire chambers by Georges Charpak in the late 60s was the first "revolution" in detector technology. The development of silicon microstrip detectors in the early 80s was the next "revolution" in high energy physics experiments.
Semiconductor detectors have been known for more than 60 years; however it was only in the early 80s that their tracking capabilities started being explored, when physicists started looking for detectors to measure short-lived particles. The first silicon microstrip detectors were developed by Josef Kemmer in collaboration with Erik Heijne from CERN and by Robert Klanner and Gerhard Lutz from Max Planck Institute, Munich.
The first vertex telescope of the NA11 and NA32 experiments at the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron, made of silicon microstrip detectors, with a 5 micron spatial resolution, made the reconstruction of secondary vertices from the decay of heavy-flavoured hadrons possible. This work was the foundation for the development of other silicon-based technologies – silicon drift and silicon pixel detectors – which were adopted by many high energy physics experiments: the LEP experiments at CERN, the SLC experiments at SLAC and the Tevatron experiments at Fermilab, to name but a few.
These silicon trackers have made possible major discoveries, such as heavy-flavour physics at LEP, CP-violation at B-factories and the discovery of the top quark. Nowadays all LHC experiments at CERN use a variety of technologies of silicon detectors for high-precision tracking and vertexing. Not to mention that the application of silicon tracking detectors has expanded to nuclear physics, solid-state physics, astrophysics, biology and medicine.