New Helmholtz platform for detector technologies

The Helmholtz Association builds a new platform for the further development of detector technologies and detector systems. Nine Helmholtz institutes, together with DESY, are participating in this project, which also includes the bundling of competences of eleven universities and seven research institutes from Germany and abroad. As a portfolio theme, the Helmholtz Association funds the detector initiative with 13 million euros from 2012 to 2016.

The CMS detector at the LHC.

The objective of this new research platform is to create the fundaments and technologies to develop highly integrated photon and particle detectors, to optimise data transfer and evaluation and to design and build exemplary detector prototypes. “DESY is active and provides decisive impetus in all these areas of the new Helmholtz portfolio theme,” says Ties Behnke. He and Heinz Graafsma are in charge of the initiative on behalf of DESY.

Silicon detectors are a central topic of research and development work. They are needed as research tools at both the European XFEL and the LHC. The scientists focus on the increase of the integration level. “Currently, the detector and readout electronics are placed at one level,” Behnke describes. “For the future, we are planning a three-dimensional structure by arranging the detector readout and supply in layers behind the actual detector layer – so to say a 3D silicon detector.” This kind of detectors would make possible a wide range of applications, even extending far beyond basic research.

An intelligent readout system and a fast data transfer are further themes of investigation for the scientists. “Facilities as the European XFEL or FLASH generate light flashes of only few ten femtoseconds duration, up to 27 000 per second,” Heinz Graafsma explains. “Our detectors must read out this fast rate with unprecedented spatial resolution and sensitivity bandwidth – a tailor-made challenge for our particle physics and photon science experts.”