The DIRC technology (Detection of Internally Reflected Cherenkov light) offers an excellent possibility to minimize the form factor of Cherenkov detectors in hermetic high energy detectors. The PANDA experiment at FAIR in Germany will combine a barrel-shaped DIRC with a disc-shaped DIRC to cover an angular range of 5 to 140 degrees. Particle identification for pions and kaons with a separation power of 3 standard deviations or more will be provided for momenta between 0.5 GeV/c and 3.5 GeV in the barrel region and up to 4 GeV/c in the forward region.
Even though the concept is simple, the design and construction of a DIRC is challenging. High precision optics and mechanics are required to maintain the angular information of the Cherenkov photons during multiple internal reflections and to focus the individual photons onto position sensitive photon detectors. These sensors must combine high efficiencies for single photons with low dark count rates and good timing resolution at high rates. The choice of radiation hard fused silica for the optical material and of MCP-PMT photon sensors is essential for DIRC detectors to survive in an environment of radiation and strong magnetic field. The two DIRC detectors differ in the focusing optics, in the treatment of chromatic dispersion and in the electronic readout systems.
The technical design of the two DIRC detectors and their validation by testing prototypes in particle beams at DESY and CERN are presented.