Cherenkov detectors may be classified as either imaging or threshold types, depending on whether they do or do not make use of Cherenkov angle (θ) information. In the simple case of a threshold detector the mass-dependent threshold energy allows the discrimination between a lighter particle (which does radiate) and a heavier particle (which does not radiate) of the same energy or momentum. Imaging counters may be used to track particles as well as identify them. Although devices using Cherenkov radiation are often thought of as particle identification (PID) detectors, in practice, they are widely used over a much broader range of applications; including:
- fast particle counters
- hadronic particle identification
- tracking detectors performing complete event reconstruction.
Types of Cherenkov Detectors – Examples
- RICH. Practical multi-track Ring-Imaging Cherenkov detectors (generically called RICH counters) are a more recent development. In a RICH detector, a cone of Cherenkov light is produced when a high speed charged particle traverses a suitable medium, often called radiator. This light cone is detected on a position sensitive planar photon detector, which allows reconstructing a ring or disc, the radius of which is a measure for the Cherenkov emission angle. For example, the LHCb experiment on the Large Hadron Collider uses two RICH detectors for differentiating between pions and kaons.
- Super-Kamiokande. Super-Kamiokande is an underground neutrino observatory, which uses large water Cherenkov counters to detect high-energy neutrinos to search for proton decay, study solar and atmospheric neutrinos, and keep watch for supernovae in the Milky Way Galaxy. It consists of a cylindrical stainless steel tank about 40 m (131 ft) in height and diameter holding 50,000 tons of ultrapure water. Mounted on an inside superstructure are about 13,000 photomultiplier tubes that detect light from Cherenkov radiation.