PHYSICAL REVIEW C, vol.94, no.5, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
Background: In the context of the investigation of the quark gluon plasma produced in heavy-ion collisions, hadrons containing heavy (charm or beauty) quarks play a special role for the characterization of the hot and dense medium created in the interaction. The measurement of the production of charm and beauty hadrons in proton-proton collisions, besides providing the necessary reference for the studies in heavy-ion reactions, constitutes an important test of perturbative quantum chromodynamics (pQCD) calculations. Heavy-flavor production in proton-nucleus collisions is sensitive to the various effects related to the presence of nuclei in the colliding system, commonly denoted cold-nuclear-matter effects. Most of these effects are expected to modify open-charm production at low transverse momenta (p(T)) and, so far, no measurement of D-meson production down to zero transverse momentum was available at mid-rapidity at the energies attained at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC).