Effects of Nitrogen contamination in liquid Argon

R. Acciarri, M. Antonello, B. Baibussinov, M. Baldo-Ceolin, P. Benetti, F. Calaprice, E. Calligarich, M. Cambiaghi, N. Canci, F. Carbonara, F. Cavanna, S. Centro, A. G. Cocco, F. Di Pompeo, G. Fiorillo, C. Galbiati, V. Gallo, L. Grandi, G. Meng, I. ModenaC. Montanari, O. Palamara, L. Pandola, G. B. Piano Mortari, F. Pietropaolo, G. L. Raselli, M. Roncadelli, M. Rossella, C. Rubbia, E. Segreto, A. M. Szelc, S. Ventura, C. Vignoli

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A dedicated test of the effects of Nitrogen contamination in liquid Argon has been performed at the INFN-Gran Sasso Laboratory (LNGS, Italy) within the WArP R&D program. A detector has been designed and assembled for this specific task and connected to a system for the injection of controlled amounts of gaseous Nitrogen into the liquid Argon. The purpose of the test is to detect the reduction of the Ar scintillation light emission as a function of the amount of the Nitrogen contaminant injected in the Argon volume. A wide concentration range, spanning from ∼ 10-1 ppm up to ∼ 103 ppm, has been explored. Measurements have been done with electrons in the energy range of minimum ionizing particles (γ-conversion from radioactive sources). Source spectra at different Nitrogen contaminations are analyzed, showing sensitive reduction of the scintillation yield at increasing concentrations. Direct PMT signal acquisition exploiting high time resolution by fast waveform recording allowed high precision extraction of the main characteristics of the scintillation light emission in contaminated LAr. In particular, the decreasing behavior in lifetime and relative amplitude of the slow component is found to be appreciable starting from (1 ppm) of Nitrogen concentrations. The rate constant of the quenching process induced by Nitrogen in liquid Ar has been found to be kQ(N2) = 0.11 0.01 μs-1ppm-1, consistent with a previous measurement of this quantity but with significant improvement in precision. On the other hand, no evidence for absorption by N2 impurities has been found up to the higher concentrations here explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Instrumentation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematical Physics
  • Instrumentation


  • Instrument optimisation
  • Noble-liquid detectors (scintillation, ionization two-phase)
  • Scintillators, scintillation and light emission processes (solid, gas and liquid scintillators)


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