Recently, the study of diffractive processes has known a large renewed interest. The diverse experimental programmes of current hadron accelerators such as HERA and TEVATRON offer, together with future machines such as the LHC at CERN, a great new challenge both in theoretical and experimental particle physics research.
Diffractive processes can be considered as a sub-class of inelastic scattering processes, where one of the colliding particles survives the interaction: A + B à A + X.
The H1 experiment of the German research centre DESY, situated in Hamburg, to which the particle physics group of the UA is connected, has seen a considerable upgrade last year. The very forward proton spectrometer (VFPS), co-developed by our group and partly financed by the FWO, is a considerable part of this upgrade. The VFPS detector is complementary to the existing system of H1 and has in contrast to the existing spectrometer a very large acceptance and the possibility of precise calibration.
Numerous diffractive processes, such as di-jet production, open charm and vector meson production, have been measured with the existing H1 setup, however with limited statistics and large background contamination from proton-dissociation processes. The new VFPS detector will contribute, in combination with an increased luminosity of the HERA accelerator, to a more precise measurement of these processes.
It is therefore expected that, in parallel with theoretical progress, new insights will be gained in the dynamics of diffraction within the framework of the quantum-chromodynamics formalism.
The commisioning of the new apparatus and the collection of new data is planned before the end of 2003.