The successful completion of LS1, consolidation and preparations for the future

For CERN’s Technology (TE) Department, success in LS1 is more important than finishing. In other words, the aim is to reach the finish line having maintained the highest standards of safety, quality and performance. Other challenges need to be faced too, before, during and after LS1, and the Department always approaches them with optimism. The new Department Head tells us how his 750 colleagues work to keep the Laboratory at the cutting edge of high-energy physics technology.


José Miguel Jiménez.

“We can only grow once we’ve stabilised our base.” The message presented by José Miguel Jiménez, who stepped into the role of TE Department Head in January 2014, is clear, as are his priorities going forward: “The Technology Department needs to be consolidated in terms of both its personnel and its assembly and test infrastructures, some of which are unique.”

The TE Department is tasked with providing the necessary technologies for the maintenance of existing infrastructures, but it also has to meet challenges that arise in ongoing projects and studies. At the moment, the Department has to plan around the LHC’s rhythm. “The LHC runs for around two and a half years before each long shutdown," he explains. “We have to evaluate the allocation of resources, both financial and human, taking into account this ‘heartbeat’, which is completely different from the annual shutdowns for the former LEP machine. Optimising resources is a fundamental issue because, without it, we would risk penalising all the projects that work on a less restrictive timescale.”

It should be remembered that, in addition to paying special attention to the LHC and its injectors, the Department looks to the future too. “We need to be able to free up resources, for example to develop solutions to problems identified in the various machines today to ensure the best performance possible in the years to come," Jiménez adds.  Indeed, particularly at the LHC, where the particles reach a very high energy, dynamic effects caused by the beams are starting to emerge and the electronics are struggling to withstand the radiation. The development of innovative materials and processes is therefore becoming crucial in order to limit the damage to the infrastructures. “We are working to develop our technologies to control these instabilities,” he underlines. “We will then have to construct and test the prototypes. This process takes around three years.”

The TE Department’s highly specialised and motivated personnel are currently involved in several projects that will, in the medium-term, have a significant impact on the operation of the machines. Some of these projects are established in an international context by way of collaboration with other laboratories, while others simply form part of the Organization’s mission of technology transfer to the Member States. “We have to be able to guarantee this technological excellence and provide this service. The hope is to achieve technological breakthroughs that would also be beneficial outside high-energy physics,” Jiménez adds.

According to the Department Head, the motivation to face all the complex challenges of a Laboratory that aims always to be at the forefront of technology comes from "pride in a job well done". José Miguel Jiménez leaves us with one final thought: “I would like to end this interview by praising the professionalism, commitment and collaborative spirit of all members of the personnel, associates and industrial partners who work for and in collaboration with the Department. It is remarkable to see such team spirit.”

by Antonella Del Rosso