Milestones:CERN Experimental Instrumentation, 1968
CERN Experimental Instrumentation, 1968
IEEE France Section, Endorsed by the IEEE Switzerland Section
Dedication: 26 September 2005
At CERN laboratories the invention of multiple-wire proportional chambers and drift chambers revolutionized the domain of electronic particle detectors, leading to new research on the constitution of matter. The development of unique electrical and electronic devices made possible the major high-energy physics experiments which have been recognized worldwide.
The 1992 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Georges Charpak, France, for his invention and development of detectors in high energy physics. Since 1959 Charpak had worked at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics situated in the canton of Geneva in Switzerland. Charpak invented the multi - wire proportional chamber at CERN. The pioneering work was published in 1968. Largely due to his work particle physicists have been able to focus their interest on very rare particle interactions, which often reveal the secrets of the inner parts of matter. Sometimes only one particle interaction in a billion is the one searched for. The experimental difficulty lies in choosing the very few but exceptionally interesting particle interactions out of the many observed. Photographic methods, once so very successful in exploring particle processes, are not good enough for this. In the new wire chamber Charpak used modern electronics and reali z ed the importance of connecting the detector directly to a computer. The invention made it possible to increase the data collection speed with a factor of a thousand compared to previous methods for registering charged particle trajectories. At the same time the high spatial resolution was very often considerably improved. His fundamental idea has since been developed and for more than two decades Charpak has been at the forefront of this development.
The development of detectors very often goes hand in hand with progress in fundamental research. Various types of particle detectors based on Charpak's original invention have been of decisive importance for many discoveries particle physics during the last two decades. Several of these have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Charpak has actively contributed to the use of is new type of detector in various applications in for example medicine and biology.