The drift tube (DT) system measures muon positions in the barrel part of the detector. Each 4-cm-wide tube contains a stretched wire within a gas volume. When a muon or any charged particle passes through the volume it knocks electrons off the atoms of the gas. These follow the electric field ending up at the positively-charged wire.
By registering where along the wire electrons hit (in the diagram, the wires are going into the page) as well as by calculating the muon's original distance away from the wire (shown here as horizontal distance and calculated by multiplying the speed of an electron in the tube by the time taken) DTs give two coordinates for the muon’s position.
Each DT chamber, on average 2m x 2.5m in size, consists of 12 aluminium layers, arranged in three groups of four, each up with up to 60 tubes: the middle group measures the coordinate along the direction parallel to the beam and the two outside groups measure the perpendicular coordinate.