TE Coan Outreach

A muon enters the scintillator, slows and then stops, causing the scintillator to emit a flash of light as the kinetic energy of the muon is transferred to the scintillator. Some time after the muon stops, its decay into an electron and two neutrinos produces another flash of scintillator light. Unlike conventional approaches to time the 2.2 $\mu$sec muon lifetime that rely on expensive CAMAC and NIM circuitry often found only in particle physics research labs, we designed and developed timing circuitry that uses the properties of a special integrated circuit (IC), a field programmable gate array (FPGA). This flexible IC can be programmed to behave in many ways and its incorporation into a printed circuit board is relatively inexpensive. The figure to the right is a block diagram of the overall instrument.