Applying Timepix4 sub-nanosecond Timing Detectors Beyond Particle Physics

Dr Richard Plackett

The Medipix collaboration has developed a series of silicon pixel detectors that allow the advances made for particle Physics Detector technology to be applied to other areas of science that do not have the depth of collaborative instrumentation research to be able to develop these devices independently.  As a member of the Medipix4 collaboration the Oxford Physics Microstructure Detector Group (OPMD) is active in working on the characterisation of the new Timepix4 detector, that is capable of sub-nanosecond time-stamped radiation imaging, and its application to a number of projects at Oxford Departments.  These include Mass Spectrometry, Electron Microscopy, Photon Science, and Archelogy.  A major part of this is the research into new fast timing Low Gain Avalanche Diode (LGAD) sensors that can be coupled to the Timepix4 and fully exploit its timing capabilities.

The OPMD group has dedicated funding for an 3.5 year Industrial CASE Dphil studentship in partnership with Quantum Detectors Ltd to work on the Timepix4 applications and LGAD project. There is the possibility to extend this to a longer CASE+ with an extra year of industrial placement.

The focus of the project would be initially be characterising the performance of the detector, and then applying the detector to a number of projects across the university, these include:

*Time of flight Mass Spectrometry (ToFMS) in collaboration with the Oxford Chemistry Department.

*Electron microscopy readout with the Oxford Material Science Department.

*Low intensity Gamma Spectroscopy with the Oxford Archaeology Department.

*An Axion search experiment with Oxford Physics at XFEL in Hamburg.

*The development of novel fast timing (50ps) LGAD sensors to attach to the Timepix4.

The program would be largely based in the OPMD silicon development labs with up to six months attachment to Quantum Detectors, a spin out company specialising in radiation detectors based on the Harwell Science Campus.

Quantum Detectors (QD) is a spin out from STFC and Diamond Light Source whose purpose is to commercialise cutting edge detector technology in order to accelerate scientific discovery. QD has global reach, with hundreds of products installed at synchrotrons, large scale laboratories, Universities and private sector companies.

Whilst on placement with QD the student would work within the R&D team, a multidisciplinary team consisting of experts in hardware, firmware and software. The student would have the opportunity to contribute to the company’s R&D output and gain valuable experience of working in a commercial R&D environment. Of particular interest would be QD’s Timepix 4 detector project which has applications in synchrotron science and in transmission electron microscopy.

There is also the opportunity for international travel to attend meetings and conferences, and perform measurement campaigns at major international facilities.

Development of Pixellated Low Gain Avalanche Detectors

Dr Daniel Hynds

The search amongst irrelevant data for something of value is often compared to looking for a needle in a haystack. At the Large Hadron Collider at CERN this is more akin to searching for one needle within a huge stack of needles, all moving in different directions, forty million times a second. The hectic environment resulting from tens to hundreds of concurrent proton-proton interactions makes huge demands of the detectors which constitute modern particle physics experiments. The last few years have seen precise timing - down to tens of picoseconds - provide a solution for this. New silicon detectors based on Low Gain Avalanche Diodes are under construction for the imminent upgrades of the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, but we are only starting to enter the world of precision timing in silicon. Developing this technology into pixellated devices is just beginning, and one of the areas of detector R&D that Oxford are involved in.

To that end, the Oxford Physics Microstructure Detector lab (OPMD) are looking for an enthusiastic DPhil candidate to drive the development of pixellated LGAD devices. This will involve the design and simulation of new LGAD sensors, including capacitively coupled devices, followed by prototyping and testing of the devices in the lab and at particle beam facilities such as CERN and DESY. Merging this approach with the other strand of rapidly-evolving area of detector physics - monolithic CMOS - they will investigate the potential for devices incorporating gain on a single silicon substrate. The student will work closely with other UK groups involved in the development of LGADs, along with UK foundries fabricating these devices. Strong collaboration with the nearby Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is also to be expected.

Joint DPhil (Ph.D) Oxford Physics and Diamond Light Source working on Timepix4 x-ray detectors

Dr Richard Plackett 

The Oxford Physics Microstructure Detector Group and the Diamond Light Source Detector Group are offering a joint-funded 3.5-year DPhil graduate studentship to work on applications of the new Timepix4 detector and the development of compatible fast timing sensors.  

The focus of the project will be the characterisation and application of the Timepix4 silicon pixel detector. This is a high bandwidth, sub-nanosecond timing and imaging detector, that has been developed from Particle Physics instrumentation research and is now being applied to the Photon Science application.  A significant aspect of the project will be to work on the development and testing of novel pixelated Low Gain Avalanche Detectors (LGAD) sensors that can be coupled to the Timepix4 to increase its performance, allowing both highly time-resolved experiments and to access a wider range of x-ray energies with a single detector than is currently possible.

The studentship will be based in the Oxford Physics Department and includes taught courses in Particle Physics and advanced instrumentation.

If you would like to discuss the project please contact Dr Richard Plackett.

Optimisation of support structures for future trackers

Professor Georg Viehhauser

Future collider experiments will require support structures and services which will use significantly less material than current systems. This can only be achieved with modern engineering techniques using advanced composite materials (e.g. ultra-high modulus carbon fibre, high-thermal conductivity materials), state-of-the art fabrication techniques (e.g. 3d printing) and a high level of integration (e.g. co-curing).

After design the performance of the solutions developed to meet this challenge needs to be verified. This comprises measurements of mechanical stability under various thermal and mechanical loads at the sub-μm level and verification of the thermal performance. Because of the unique requirements for HEP experiments a mix of existing state-of-the-art and to-be-developed measurement techniques are required for this task.

While these R&D activities have a strong connection to mechanical engineering they require a good understanding of topics across many fields of physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, and optics) and are a great opportunity to unleash all the things you suffered through in your undergraduate years to enable future breakthroughs in particle physics.