Observation of beauty and quarkonia with the upgraded ALICE at the LHC
Horizon 2020
Approval no 896850
Start: 2021
End: 2023

For a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang, the universe consisted of an extremely hot mix of the elementary particles quarks and gluons at a temperature a couple of hundred thousand times that at the centre of the sun.

Over the past several decades, physicists working with particle accelerators have been smashing nucleus together at tremendous speeds to recreate this quark–gluon plasma (QGP). The experiments are shedding light on the birth of our universe.

The EU-funded HeavyQGP project is laying the groundwork to take full advantage of significant upgrades to an important ongoing collider experiment. With high-tech instrumentation and analysis, the project will help define the perfect recipe for this super-hot primordial soup.


Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) predicts that at very high temperature and densities, ordinary matter undergoes a phase transition leading to a state of matter known as Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP).

The Properties of QGP can be investigated by heavy-ion collisions provided by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE), the devoted experiment to investigate heavy-ion collisions at the LHC is going through a substantial upgrade from 2019 to 2020 which is crucial to elucidate the properties of QGP by allowing the measurement of challenging probes like low transverse momentum heavy-flavor particles and quarkonium states and their coupling with the medium.

LHC Tunnel - image du Cern

The LHC tunnel (Image: CERN)

Of particular interest to HeavyQGP is the installation of a new silicon pixel tracking detector in ALICE, the Muon Forward Tracker (MFT). This new detector will enable ALICE to determine the vortex position of forward dimuon pairs with down to 30 micrometre resolution.

Objective of the project

HeavyQGP joins the Muon Forward Tracker (MFT) project to coordinate the developpment, deployment and use of its data reconstruction and data analysis computing systems. Specific objectives includes:

  1. Perform analysis of ALICE data for quarkonia and beauty production
  2. Ensure the quality of RUN3 ALICE data at forward geometries
  3. Explore novel applications for the ALPIDE sensor
  4. Operate the Muon Forward Tracker
  5. Apply Open Science concepts at ALICE.


Expected outcomes

We expect to have all MFT computing systems fully operational at the start of the data acquisition period in 2022. This includes Implementation and validation of forward tracking in ALICE. This includes development and implementation of tracking model, reconstruction algorithm, detector alignment procedures, performance assessment tools, efficiency and acceptance correction procedures.

Within the time frame of HeavyQGP we expect preliminary results from the analysis of the lead-lead collisions foreseen for December 2022.

The outcomes of HeavyQGP are expected to also contribute the conception and design of future QGP experiments.


IMT Atlantique Role

IMT Atlantique, Subatech personnel have long-time experience on thermodynamics of the Quantum Chromodynamics interactions via the collisions of relativistic heavy ions to study the properties of the Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP), including the design, construction and operation of detectors to achieve these goals. The Plasma Group/Subatech has a long experience with the Muon Spectrometer of ALICE. Furthermore, the group contributes to several aspects of the MFT project: coordination, detecor design, construction and commissioning. By hosting HeavyQGP, the plasma Group ensures its experience on computing systems and analysis is fully exploited and expanded by the MFT project.




The ALICE collaboration and CERN provide the infrastructure to execute the experiment.

CNRS/ IN2P3 coordinates the French participation to ALICE and finance it, as well as Université de Nantes.


Nexts Steps

Implementation of Global Tracking library for forward tracks and improve track-vertex association in the ALICE On-line Off-line computing systems.

Coordinate MFT detector operation after July 2022.


This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 896850.
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