High Momentum Transfer Nucleon Elastic Electromagnetic Form Factor Measurements Using Super BigBite Spectrometer at Jefferson Lab

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0001-8344-0631
Di, Danning, Physics - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Liyanage, Nilanga, Physics, University of Virginia

The nucleons - protons and neutrons - are the basic building blocks of atomic nuclei. We now know that the nucleon consists of fundamental particles called quarks and gluons. The quarks interact with each other by exchanging gluons via the strong interaction. Understanding the quark-gluon structure of the nucleon, especially the confinement of quarks within the nucleon in its ground state, remains one of the main unsolved puzzles of particle physics. The nucleon electromagnetic form factors are directly related to the internal structure of the nucleon. A new generation of high precision experiments, GEp-V, GEn-II, GEn-RP, and GMn, measuring the ground state nucleon space-like electro-magnetic form factor at high momentum transfer is underway at Jefferson Lab experimental Hall-A as part of the Super Bigbite Spectrometer (SBS) program. This series of experiments will provide a new level of understanding of the nucleon structure. These experiments are highly demanding due to the extremely fast drop off of the elastic cross section with the increasing four-momentum transfer squared. This thesis provides an overview of the SBS physics program and reports on the extensive R&D program carried out to achieve the high rate running conditions essential for carrying out the SBS experiments. SBS will provide an intermediate solid angle of approximately 35 msr, which is significantly larger than the solid angle of other dipole based spectrometers at Jefferson lab. Of course, there are much larger acceptance spectrometers at Jefferson Lab, CLAS12 for example. What is special about SBS is that it provides a sizable acceptance while operating at the highest possible luminosity at Jefferson Lab. With this combination of medium acceptance and the highest available luminosity, SBS provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the nucleon in its ground state with unprecedented resolution.
The relatively large acceptance of SBS is achieved by using a large gap dipole magnet and placing it close to the target. An unavoidable consequence of this is that the SBS GEM trackers and other detectors have a clear line-of-sight view of the target and a portion of the beam-line. As a result, the background hit rate in the SBS front GEM trackers is expected to be up to 500 kHz/cm*cm, over the entire active area of 6000 cm*cm. To the best of our knowledge, this extremely high rate over such a large area is unprecedented in any particle tracking system used anywhere in the world before. Correctly reconstructing the particle tracks of interest in this very high background environment is achieved by using especially adapted high rate techniques at every step of the tracking process: optimizing the GEM module and tracker design at the hardware level, using high bandwidth electronics and real time Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) based background suppression techniques at the Data Acquisition (DAQ) level, and developing highly specialized tracking algorithms to pick out the signal hits from among the vast amount of background hits. In order to ensure a smooth start and running of the SBS experiments, it is extremely crucial that these techniques are developed, implemented, and tested under realistic conditions well before the actual start of the SBS experimental program. A detailed Geant4 simulation of the experiment was combined with a digitization package to generate the detector level pseudo-data similar to what is expected in the actual experiments. The digitization procedures were calibrated against actual GEM data from cosmic-ray runs, X-ray tests, beam test runs in experimental Hall-A, and the PRad experiment in Hall B. Then, optimized tracking algorithms were developed and implemented in an analysis program used to analyze these pseudo-data and to extract expected high-level parameters. These extracted quantities were then compared with the input parameters from the simulation to verify and determine the performance characteristics for the SBS tracker. From this work, a final tracking efficiency of 69% at 25% occupancy was achieved, with the required reconstruction accuracy, for the GMn experiment, the first experiment in the SBS program, with background level at 100 kHz/cm*cm. These demonstrated parameters are adequate for the successful running of not only the GMn experiment but as well as for GEn-RP and GEn-II experiments, the second and third experiments in the program. This work builds the solid ground to further improve the tracking performance for these experiments and achieve similar conditions for the running of the GEp-V experiment, the most demanding experiment in the SBS program, with an expected background level at 500 kHz/cm*cm.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Nucleon Structure, Electron Elastic Scattering, Gas Electron Multiplier
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: