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A closing-out review meeting for the STARRelativistic Nucleus-Nucleus Collision Physics Research and Development of the Time of Flight (TOF) Detectors, a major Sino-US collaboration project by the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), was held on December 28–30, 2009 in Haikou, Hainan province. The project, which was implemented jointly by Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP),  Chinese Academy of Science (CAS); University of Science and Technology of China (USTC); and Tsinghua University; was reviewed by a group of experts from Peking University; Nanjing University; Shandong University; Institute of High Energy Physics, CAS; Institute of Modern Physics, CAS; and the Graduate School of CAS.Dr.Ji Peiwen, deputy director of the NSFC Division of Mathematics and Physics,and leaders of the NSFC International Cooperation Bureau and the Physics-II Office of NSFC, attended the meeting. Over 20 members of the Sino-US collaboration project, including the project leaders of Professor Yugang Ma with SINAP, Professor Hongfang Chen with USTC, and Professor Jianping Cheng  with Tsinghua University, leaders of the sub-topics of the project, and other key persons of the project, participated the meeting.

The expert group reviewed the project and gave full marks to all items assessing implementation of  the project. In the project implementation, the Chinese team succeeded in developing the large-size TOF spectrometer, which is based on MRPC (Multi-gap Resistive Plate Chamber) technology and has been installed, for the first time in the world, in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in USA, fordata acquisition starting in 2010. The STAR-TOF spectrometer, which identifies both low-transverse momentum electrons and high transverse momentum particles, extends greatly the physics capacity of the STAR detector. In the physical analysis, the Chinese team has obtained a series of important results, such as collective flow of the hot dense matter produced in RHIC, strange quark dynamics, heavy flavor production,  and high transverse momentum light-flavor hadron spectroscopy. And they have observed, for the first time, anti-matter hypertritium events. The analysis results made important contributions to the confirmation of a new strong coupling quark-gluon plasma (sQGP), and to the study of the strong interaction with the sQGP.

The Chinese team members are STAR principal authors of 40 papers and are co-authors of over 80 more articles. They also made about 30 presentations in series international conferences. The project has achieved markedly in education and training, too. A number of doctorial programs under the project won national or CAS awards, such as the outstanding doctoral dissertation scholarships and CAS president scholarships. Many young scientists grown in the project became key researchers of the STAR collaboration.

In a parallel development, a relevant project funded by international partners to support electronics and software system for the STAR-TOF detectors had been reviewed  successfully in 2009 for its closing-out by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Chinese contribution to this international collaboration project was evaluated by the U.S. collaborators as “a great success of Sino-US cooperation in high-energy physics”. It has been widely recognized that implementation of this project is a successful example of China's equal participation in international collaborations.

Data acquisition of the STAR-TOF spectrometer is starting now on RHIC.  It is believed that the TOF spectrometer will record a large amount of extremely valuable data that are essential to STAR’s energy scan to determine the equation of state of the deconfined matter, to the search for the critical point of QCD, and to studies on strong interacting quark-gluon-plasma as well.

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