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CfI Responsive Mode projects

April 2018 to March 2019
05 Nov 2018
STFC National Laboratories

We are pleased to summarise the currently awarded Responsive Mode projects in the Centre for Instrumentation.


RM01 New X-ray Fluorescence Science Demonstrations

Matt Wilson (TD)

X-ray fluorescence is a technique to measure the elements in a sample from the energies that it emits when irradiated by X-rays of sufficiently high energy. STFC have developed a detector called HEXITEC that can measure the energy of the X-rays and image them at the same time. This provides images or videos of the elements in a sample rather than measuring a combination of all elements or specific positions in the sample, point by point. This project aims to demonstrate this new technique by studying the solidification of metal alloys at synchrotron facilities and looking at low-Z elements within bulk sample by using muonic X-ray fluorescence at the RIKEN-RAL beamline at ISIS.


RM04 Real Time Gamma Rejection for Neutron Detectors

Sion Richards (TD)

New high performance pulse shape discrimination neutrons scintillators have been identified and studied by scientists at ISIS and STFC’s Technology department. These scintillators could increase the neutron count rate at ISIS instruments by as much as 50 times. This rate increase would result in faster measurements and therefore the capability to increase the number of experiments performed at ISIS. To fully exploit these developments in scintillator technology, new readout and processing hardware is needed.

This would allow for real time measurements rather than the current method of processing the signals after the experiment. This readout system would be applicable to many of the new neutron scintillators under development, increasing our capability to develop new scintillators and would be directly applicable for the scintillators used for national security to find and identify nuclear materials.


RM05 Scintillator Mounting

Sion Richards (TD)

The Detector Development Group at STFC is experienced in building novel radiation imaging detectors based on STFC’s CMOS sensor technology. These systems typically need a scintillator mounted directly on the fragile silicon sensor to make them highly sensitive to radiation. This project is to develop a robust procedure using STFC’s highly skilled technical staff in our detector assembly clean room. The high end machinery and experienced technicians will provide a repeatable process to assemble high end imaging sensors with improved light collection and radiation damage protection.


RM06 Spintronic X-ray detector

Paul Seller (TD)

Spintronics is a growing industrial field in the area of data storage and data manipulation and a research field in the area of quantum computing and electronic signal processing. At STFC we have requirements for state of the art detector systems particularly photon and charge particle detectors. We are investigating some advanced concepts which might allow imaging detectors to be made from spintronic and orbitronic electronic systems. The UK has challenged itself to be a world leader in advanced electronic and spintronic devices. This ground-breaking work will lead to novel devices for science instrumentation and valuable IP for UK PLC.


RM07 Embedded ADC Circuit Development

David Rivas Marchena (TD)

The early conversion of signal data into the digital domain within detector systems avoids transmitting sensitive analogue data between detectors and data acquisition systems over long cables. Analogue-to-digital converters (ADCs) are frequently embedded in the front-end readout ASICs of detector systems so detector data is transmitted to the acquisition system via digital connections with their higher speed and inherently higher noise immunity.

This bid will develop a number of ADCs designs with a range of capabilities so future detector projects have access to ready-made circuit blocks that can be directly integrated into new ASIC designs. The removal of the development cost and risk associated with the ADC design will make the use of ASICs more affordable and hence accessible to the scientific community.


RM08 Low Temperature ASIC Circuit Development

Quentin Morrissey (TD)

Detectors operating at low temperatures are used across the scientific community in fields such as Earth observation, astronomy, neutrino and nuclear physics, and photon sciences. All these applications face the same issue of transmitting highly sensitive electronic signals from cold detectors to room temperature acquisition systems through cryostat walls without degrading the information contained. The use of cryogenic Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) can provide high levels of electronic readout performance while also greatly reducing the number and sensitivity of signals returning to room temperature.

This bid will further develop STFCs low temperature ASIC design expertise and establish a catalogue of low power wide temperature range circuit blocks for future use. This will allow us to test design concepts, de-risk future low temperature ASIC design projects, and develop demonstrator circuits for commonly used functions.


RM12 Next Generation Cryocooler Compressor

Martin Crook (TD)

Cryogenically cooled detectors are a critical component of many past, present and future space missions, helping to answer questions ranging from “what will the weather be like tomorrow?” to “how did the universe begin?” A common technology that underpins these missions is closed cycle cryogenic cooling based on long-life, low vibration compressors. STFC RAL has been at the forefront of this technology for over 30 years.

This project will build on this successful history by incorporating the latest developments in thermodynamic modelling, engineering analysis, materials and manufacturing techniques into a “Next Generation Compressor.” The European Space Agency (ESA) has identified such a technology as critical to their programmes in the coming decade. The work will produce a preliminary design that can be scaled to answer the needs of a variety of future missions – both Earth observation and scientific.


RM13 Supra-Terahertz Schottky Devices

Peter Huggard (RAL Space)

Semiconductor detectors for electromagnetic radiation and particles are critically important for STFC and its scientific community. This project aims to develop the capabilities needed for the next generation of terahertz detectors, which will be needed for Earth observation, planetary science and radio astronomy instruments, as well as particle accelerator diagnostics. Previous CfI support has secured a critical role for STFC's devices in the MetOp Second generation programme, where space observations of the Earth’s atmosphere will supply the data needed to improve computerised weather prediction in the coming decades. This project builds on these achievements: we shall use a finely focussed electron beam to create GaAs and InGaAs devices with nanometre precision, which will work at the higher terahertz frequencies needed by STFC’s current research programmes. Metal features will be included alongside the sub 1 µm diameter semiconductor devices, removing a challenging manual assembly task.


RM15 A Standardised CMOS Sensor Evaluation Camera System

Ben Marsh (TD)

The development of cutting-edge CMOS image sensors requires rapid and accurate testing in a variety of conditions. The Standardised Camera Test System is designed to provide a method for producing a camera system along with a standardised test structure design that can be used on a single system without the need for a bespoke system per project. It will also bring the flexibility to test these devices in the wide variety of environments and locations that modern scientific and industrial sensors are required in.


RM16 Spectroscopic STEM

Matt Wilson (TD)

STFC have made major contributions to the detectors used in CryoEM systems and the resulting high profile work in imaging proteins and biological systems that have recently culminated in a Nobel Prize. Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEM) are also heavily used in material science where the more robust samples can be imaged in a number of different modalities. Scanning-TEM (STEM) is used to measure chemical and elemental properties of the samples but require many orders of magnitude more electrons than are used in CryoEM. In the same way that direct electron detection in CMOS sensors revolutionised CryoEM for life sciences, a new flavour of detector technology has the potential to generate a step change in insight for STEM applications. We will explore the use of high-Z semiconductor detectors and energy resolving electronics as a first step to see where this technology could benefit STEM techniques.

Last updated: 06 December 2018

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