Who are you? Can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Johannes Wessels, I am the spokesperson for a work package called FuturePID. PID is an acronym for Particle IDentification, i.e. detector technology, which is specifically suited to discriminate particles created in high energy collisions of nuclei at accelerators like FAIR or LHC.
I am a professor of nuclear physics at the University of Muenster in Germany and have been interestd in the development of detectors ever since my Diploma thesis.

You are leading an activity within the HP3 project  ? which are the scientifically exciting aspects of your research project?

We are specifically looking into two different technologies. One based on a precise measurement of the Time-of-Flight of particles, not unlike in sports, heavier particles (of what we call a certain momentum) take longer to reach a the detector. The other technology, Transition Radiation Detection, can only be applied to highly relativistic particles, i.e. particles whose energy of motion is much larger than their mass (E=mc^2). Such particles emit Transition Radiation, which is similar to X-rays and can effciently be measurerd.

While both technologies are well established in nuclear and particle physics, the main challenge lies with pushing the technology frontier to adapt to the highest interaction rates ever achieved.

Who are the participants to your project?

The project is comprosed of detector experts from four well-known institutions: the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering in Bucharest, the largest nuclear physics institute of Romania, the Physics Institute of the University of Heidelberg, the Institute of Nuclear Physics at the University of Muenster and two German National Laboratories, GSI in Darmstadt and the HZDR in Rossendorf close to Dresden.

What do you want to achieve with this activity?

A detailed description of what we would like to achieve
can be found at http://www.hadronphysics3.eu/description-of-activities/joint-research-activities/wp19-futurepid.html
In general, we aim to get the two above technolgies ready for use under the most challenging experiemtanl conditions at the new FAIR facility under construction Darmstadt, Germany and at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland.

In which way your activity could be of benefit for the society?

Both, the electronics developed in this project as well as the detectors themselves have applications outside nuclear and particle physics, most notable components developed within this project have already been used in medical imaging, especially in Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

Why do you think  a young person should choose to study science and is there any reason for which should they do so in Europe?

Nuclear and particle physics is trying to unravel the mysteries of the basic constituents of all matter. Such fundamental questions always entail pushinf the technology fromtiers, since by definition one is trying to look at things people have not looked at before. This in turn necessitates the development of ever newer methods and technologies in particle detection. For anyone studing these subjetcs it implies that she or he will be exposed to the most modern technologies asking the most topical questions of science. They are never treading established paths, one of the key requisits for independent thinkers.
European universities and national laboratories are working at the forefront of this research world-wide.

The HadronPhysics3 project is supported by the European Union
under the 7th Framework Capacities Programme in the area of Research Infrastructures (RI).