Projects for the future: the NICA-MPD facility
In several years, the Nuclotron is going to be modernized. The designing has started of a new accelerator – the NICA collider and detectors to equip it (http://nucloserv.jinr.ru/nica_webpage/index1.htm). The new accelerator, which is planned to be launched in 2014, will extend both the available energy range (up to ) and opportunities for conducting new unique experiments.
A new accelerator complex is being built now on the basis of the Nuclotron. It is intended to include a hadron collider – an accelerator with colliding beams able to accelerate nucleons and nuclei up to uranium ions up to 3.5 GeV.
JINR's new basic facility will allow studies of the properties of the hadronic and nuclear matter, including the search for manifestations and phase transitions of deconfinement and chiral symmetry recovery as well as for the so-called critical endpoint of quantum chromodynamics at the energies of – that is, it will be possible to study the transitional state between the usual hadronic matter and plasma. The picture below shows the planned NICA accelerator complex layout. The ion source and Preaccelerator Linac will produce a bunch of particles to be accelerated. In the Nuclotron ring, the accelerated particle energy grows; in the booster ring, their number is increased; then they are extracted into the superconducting colliding rings, where the formed particle bunches collide in the points of the ring intersection. The rings are also the location of the experimental facilities.
NICA accelerator complex layout
The physics programme of the project envisages the creation of unique experimental facilities and particle detectors. At the Laboratory of High Energy Physics, the NICA centre is functioning, which includes teams modelling physics processes in collisions of ions and nuclei, developing particle detectors, electronics, and data acquisition systems, as well as doing theoretical research into the subject and specifying the "signals" and regularities, the experimental observation and study of which will allow drawing conclusions about the physics processes under research. In the work of the Centre, participate JINR's leading scientists and representatives of its Member States and the world's largest accelerator centres – GSI in Germany, CERN in Europe, and BNL in the U.S.
The "mixed phase" studies have been started at CERN, are planned at BNL for 2010, and will be GSI's main activity since 2014. CERN and GSI base their studies on the idea of a charged particle beam hitting a motionless nuclear target; at BNL and NICA, there will be collider experiments. The unique feature of JINR's project is that the NICA complex will have several points of colliding beam intersection – therefore, it will be possible to install several experimental facilities which can be designed for different purposes or use different techniques. Besides, opportunities remain of doing research at an extracted beam and motionless targets. The availability of a polarized deuteron source will make it possible to do unique experiments to study the nucleon spin structure.