Research in the Kaplan Group
Morton Kaplan, Professor of Chemistry

The centerpiece of our DOE supported research program is the STAR project, an international collaboration of many institutions engaged since 1992 in the development and construction of the STAR Detector. (STAR = Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC.) This instrument is a very large, multicomponent device for 3 dimensional tracking of the large number of fragments produced in high-energy nuclear collisions. The primary objective of the STAR experiment is to discover, identify, and characterize a transient state of matter called "quark-gluon plasma", which is predicted to be formed under extreme conditions when the most fundamental particles of matter — quarks — are released from the gluons that bind them into protons and neutrons. In effect, this experiment is expected to recreate the conditions believed to exist in the very early stages of the universe, roughly one microsecond after the "big bang". The $60M STAR detector has been nearly completed, and is installed at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In the spring of 2000 the RHIC accelerator began producing colliding beams of Au ions at energies of ~4 x 1013 eV, and the STAR detector was put through stringent tests and began recording Au + Au collision data. The data rate observed was ~20 Mbytes/sec. This research opens an entirely new regime of science, never before observed in the laboratory, and the data which will emerge requires large computational resources for analyses and simulations to extract the underlying physics and chemistry. We think of this experiment as probing the primordial chemistry of the early universe.

The STAR project
Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC)
Brookhaven National Laboratory
The E895 Collaboration
Experiment 896 at the AGS

A Taste of Quark Soup, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), Oct. 15, 1999
Making the Stuff of the Big Bang, Science Magazine, August 20, 1999
Scientists will smash gold ions together to achieve a new state of matter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 14, 1999

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