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Funded Projects / details

Cofinanciado por:

República Portuguesa 

RPCInnova - Advances in RPC detector technology targeting CERN experiments and applications for society

Code CERN/FIS-INS/0006/2021

Beneficiary Entity

LIP - Laboratório de Instrumentação e Física Experimental de Partículas

Project summary

Resistive Plane Chambers (RPCs) are gaseous particle detectors widely used in HEP, at CERN and other facilities around the world, being  currently subject to constant development. RPCs were first introduced in 1981 as trigger detectors, mainly used as muon detectors. Some years later, in 1999, and with direct participation of our group, key developments made RPCs suitable for time-of-flight (TOF) detectors for particle identification, where our group has a relevant participation at international level in the HADES and SHiP experiments. Moreover, RPC technology is nowadays used and under development in less conventional applications such as: PET, thermal neutron detectors, indoor/outdoor Cosmic Ray (CR) detectors or Muon Tomography to cite a few examples, all of them developed by our group, which has more than 20 years of experience in this technology, being pioneer in most of them. This project will address two challenging aspects of RPC technology, with a potential high impact on HEP: ultra-low gas consumption and sealed RPCs and large area RPCs with precise and simultaneous measurement of time and 2D position. These concepts are being explored in the framework of the previous RPCADVANCE project, funded by this program in 2019, already with excellent results (see Other Projects section), but to make them profitable it is essential to expand the work carried out so far in accordance with the plan presented below. Recent European Union (EU) legislation to phase-out the production of the main gas used in RPCs raises a problem for the the future experiments requiring RPCs. On the other hand, the gas systems supporting these devices, typically operate with a high gas flow regime, are always complex and expensive, leading to logistical, technical and financial problems. A possibility to mitigate both problems would be to operate the RPCs with a minimum amount of renewal gas or, ultimately, as final solution, to have sealed chambers, with nocontinuous gas supply at all or only with sporadic gas recharges. Our group is pioneering this development having demonstrated stable operation of RPC detectors with a gas consumption of around 1 cm³/min/m² in  areas > 2 m², improving by a factor two previous results, and an stable operation for more than six months in medium area (< 1000 cm²) mono-gap  RPCs without any gas supply, what could be named as the first sealed RPC. In this project we will continue the development of ultra-low gas  consumption RPCs and the sealed RPCs by extending the area (by a factor 10, up to areas > 10000 cm²), implementing the multi-gap construction and testing both approaches in accelerators or intense radioactive sources to explore the limits of this technology. The first beneficiary will be the CERN SND experiment, where we plan to install a sealed RPC detector for flux characterization. The AUGER experiment, where RPCs are being implemented in an engineering array (MARTA), would also benefit directly from this development, which greatly simplify the device operation. In any case, sealed RPC would represent a major breakthrough in this technology, greatly simplifying the devices and allowing applications that are not possible today, such as the its installation in remote locations or in places that are not accessible to open-loop gas detectors. Tracking detectors with precision of around 100 μm or timing detectors with precision below 100 ps are part of the mid-term objectives of Task Force 1 Gaseous Detectors presented at the ECFA Detector R&D Road-map Symposium. Currently, there is no established technology allowing both measurements to be performed simultaneously. RPC detectors intrinsically have this capability which was first demonstrated by our group but with a small area detector, and later by others. However, these results were achieved in relatively small areas and resorting to a high number of discrete electronic channels, which raises scalability issues due to the associated high cost. With this project, we aim to develop strategies to mitigate the readout cost. Two approaches are planned: the first by grouping channels to efficiently read out the detectors with a reduced number of discrete electronic channels and the second by reading them using ASICs/FPGAs, resulting in a low cost per channel. Performing both position and timing measurements with the same device would be a major step with direct application in HEP. Each particle would be multi-tracked, improvingtiming accuracy, and there would be no need for an external initial time detector reducing the cost, since both functions are performed with the same device. Additionally, this technological developments will have direct impact in societal applications such as TOF-PET or Muon Tomography.

Support under

Reforçar a investigação, o desenvolvimento tecnológico e a inovação

Region of Intervention




Total eligible cost

€ 70,000.00

EU financial support

€ 0.00

Funding LIP

€ 70,000.00

National public financial support

€ 70.00










Outdoor systems performance and upgradeArticle in international journal (with direct contribution from team)published
Sealed (zero gas flow) resistive plate chambersArticle in international journal (with direct contribution from team)published


A Large-Area RPC Detector for Muon Tomography Oral presentation in international conference
Outdoor systems performance and upgrade Oral presentation in international conference
New developments in timing RPCsOral presentation in international conference
Particle detectorsOral presentation in advanced training events
Stabilitystudies of sealed Resistive Plate ChambersPoster presentation in international conference


Large-Area Timing & Position Resolution RPC for Muography
Transmission muon tomography using ultra-low gas consumption RPC technology


Alberto Blanco Castro
Custódio Francisco de Melo Loureiro
Filomena Maria da Costa Clemêncio
João Pedro de Carvalho Saraiva
Jorge Francisco Barreiro Gama da Silva
Luís Alberto Vieira Lopes
Luís Manuel Silva Margato
Paolo Dobrilla
Paulo Jorge Ribeiro da Fonte