Working towards coordination of detector development in Europe

AIDA-2020, the largest EU-funded detector R&D project, kicked off at the beginning of June with a meeting at CERN (see here). The aim of the project is to advance detector technologies beyond current limits by sharing the high-quality infrastructure provided by 52 partners from 19 countries.


Knowledge exchange between the various groups who are involved in developing innovative technological solutions for the next generation of detectors is the emphasis of the AIDA-2020 EU-funded project, which started on 1 May and will run for four years.

AIDA-2020 is the successor to AIDA, a four-year EU-funded programme that concluded at the end of January 2015, which successfully coordinated a joint European effort in detector R&D and significantly improved various key European research infrastructures, enabling advanced detector development for the high-energy physics community.

Highlights of AIDA’s networking activities were the development of generic toolkits for detector description software in high-energy physics experiments and the technological exploration of new 3D interconnection processes between the sensors and electronics for future pixel detectors. The software tools are currently being used by the collaborations involved in designing detectors for the next generation of accelerators. Promising results were obtained with mature technology for some interconnection processes, paving the way for a smaller pixel size even if, for high-density interconnections, only proofs of principle have been demonstrated so far.

AIDA also established links with the European detector industry by organising a series of events with key experts from industry and academia. An interactive tool, called Collaboration Spotting, to analyse technologies using publications and patents, has been developed and is already being used by communities beyond high-energy physics. Under AIDA, the transnational access programme allowed more than 690 researchers to travel to European test-beam and irradiation facilities (CERN, DESY, JSI, UCL, KIT) to conduct their research. Finally, through its joint research activities, AIDA contributed to improving and equipping of irradiation and test-beam lines. A new beam-line characterisation infrastructure has been commissioned at Frascati (Italy) and is now available to users; a new proton irradiation facility, IRRAD, was designed and constructed in CERN's PS East Area and a new gamma irradiation facility, GIF++, recently constructed in CERN's North Area, has been equipped to welcome users. Additional equipment such as a new beam-tracking telescope, a gaseous detector facility with a solenoid magnet at DESY and electronics and mechanical infrastructure for high granularity calorimeter studies have been delivered. Prototypes of neutrino detectors have also been built.

AIDA-2020 will follow in AIDA’s footsteps, increasing the cross-fertilisation between the various HEP projects (LHC, ILC, CLIC, FCC and neutrinos). Like its predecessor, AIDA-2020 will exploit the innovation potential of detector R&D by engaging with European industry for large-scale production of detector systems and by developing applications outside particle physics, e.g. for medical imaging. Aiming to maximise scientific progress in the field, AIDA-2020 will also build on the transnational access programme with new detector characterisation facilities. The scope is to offer a forum for HEP detector R&D in Europe and to ensure optimal use and coherent development with well-equipped test-beam and irradiation facilities for the testing of detector systems. Common software tools, microelectronics and data-acquisition systems will also be provided.

Transnational access to CERN facilities under AIDA-2020

In the framework of the AIDA-2020 Transnational Access programme, CERN will provide access to four facilities: the PS and SPS for beam tests, and IRRAD and GIF++ for irradiations, with the goal of enabling users from both academic and industrial sectors to carry out detector beam and irradiation tests.

The PS and SPS provide test beams in the energy range from 1 to ~350 GeV. Upstream of the physicist’s test set-up, sophisticated beam-line equipment allows selection of the type, polarity and energy of particles as well as the beam intensity. The IRRAD irradiation facility located in the East Area of the PS offers the possibility of exposing materials to 24 GeV/c protons. The GIF++ facility in the SPS North Area combines a high-energy charged particle beam (mainly muons with a momentum up to 100 GeV/c) with a 14 TBq137Cesium source. The main purpose of this facility is to perform test-beam experiments of gas detectors in an intense gamma background field. The two independent irradiation zones make it possible to test real-size detectors and electronic components.

Besides particle physics, the CERN facilities could serve even larger user communities working on space applications, the development of radiation monitoring devices, plasma physics, fusion and meteorology. 

More information about the CERN facilities can be found here.

Information on how to apply to the AIDA-2020 Transnational Access can be found here.


by AIDA-2020 collaboration