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UK companies licensed to provide the light at the end of (and along) the tunnel

Two UK companies have won contracts to provide an innovative low cost lighting solution for high radiation areas at CERN.

Safety is a priority at CERN and lighting in the tunnels that contain its network of particle accelerators is a key feature.  Although people are not allowed in the tunnels when the accelerators are operating, the lighting remains in situ and has to be able to survive high levels of radiation. 

Three years ago, CERN faced the prospect of paying very high unit costs for ordering replacement radiation resistant lighting from the only commercial supplier of suitable products in Europe.  But could a more cost effective solution be found?  CERN electrical engineer James Devine started work with colleague Alessandro Floriduz to research and test alternative technology.  The result of their project was a design for a low cost lighting unit based on LEDs and gallium nitride transistors that is resistant up to 10 kGy.  Their design reduced the unit cost by 75% and was published on the Open Hardware repository that hosts a number of designs licensed under open source conditions.  The lighting designs were licensed under the CERN Open Hardware Licence (OHL).

Following a commercial tendering process, and working to CERN’s design, UK companies Thorlux and Isocom have won contracts to supply replacement lighting for the Proton Synchrotron (PS) and the transfer tunnel linking the PS to the next accelerator in the chain, the Super Proton Synchrotron.  To date 1000 lights have been ordered, saving CERN more than 2 MCHF.

The first batch of lighting was installed at the end of June 2019 and follow-up orders are in production for installation later this year.

This project was funded through the CERN Knowledge Transfer Fund.


Last updated: 27 September 2019


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