Production of Silica Aerogel Radiator Tiles for the HELIX RICH Detector
2019 July 22
A hydrophobic, highly transparent silica aerogel with a refractive index of $\sim $1.15 was developed using sol–gel polymerization, pin drying, and supercritical carbon dioxide solvent extraction technologies. A total of 96 monolithic tiles with dimensions of 11 cm $\times $ 11 cm $\times $ 1 cm were mass produced with a high crack-free yield for use as Cherenkov radiators to be installed in the proximity-focusing ring-imaging Cherenkov (RICH) detector. The RICH detector, containing 36 aerogel tiles, will be installed in the High Energy Light Isotope eXperiment (HELIX) spectrometer and used to measure the velocity of cosmic-ray particles. HELIX is a balloon-borne experimental program designed to measure the chemical and isotopic abundances of light cosmic-ray nuclei. A water-jet cut test of the aerogel tiles and a gluing test of the trimmed tiles with dimensions of 10 cm $\times $ 10 cm $\times $ 1 cm in an aluminum frame were successful in the context of integration into the radiator module.