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Detectors and Electronics

The Detector and Electronics Division develops, constructs and installs instrumentation solutions for STFC’s facility programme. The team is unique in the UK in that it contains the complete skill set from beamline integration and high data rate data acquisition to sensor material development, CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) imaging and ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit)design. The Division also supports delivered systems over the lifetime of their operation with various support models.

We currently have an active programme in support of ISIS, Diamond, CERN, Nuclear physics, Laser facilities, Space Science and astronomy. In addition, we have an additional translation programme into high impact areas such as medical imaging. The Division’s work is all covered by ISO9001.


The Centre will help in the forming of consortia to tackle development opportunities. Either with commercial, academic or a mixed set of partners.

Academic Collaboration

The STFC laboratories at Harwell and Daresbury have a long history of working with academic and commercial collaborators to develop detectors and instrumentation that is used on its own facilities such as Diamond and ISIS as well as laboratories abroad such as CERN. The DSC will seek to develop and facilitate new collaborative projects to tackle the requirements of large scale facilities into the future.

Mixed Collaborative Projects

In addition a range of mixed collaborative projects, combining the strengths of university researchers, laboratory staff and commercial enterprise are foreseen. The Centre aims to be a 'hub' for such collaborations and a focal point for such engagement.

This will be facilitate with training events, summer schools and interactions with the various national trade associations in the key priority areas.

Industrial Collaboration

In partnership with STFC Innovations Ltd the Centre engages with industrial and academic partners to develop new innovative products. STFC Innovations have access to venture capital funds and will, on a case by case basis, enable:

Fixed Price Contracts

The Centre is equipped and managed so that it can quote for full commercial developments on a contract basis.

Discounts for Equity

Projects where the Centre, through its commercial funding partners, finances fractions of the development cost in return for a stake in the business.

Add-hoc access to Centre facilities

The laboratories, test and development facilities will be open for access by visitors and industrial users. Such use can be scheduled and paid for based on the equipment and facility time.

Minimal Up-front Cost

Working with the local regional development agencies such as Northwest Development Agency and South East England Development Agency seed-corn funding is available for new developments.


The ASIC Design Group specialises in the design of high channel density, low power and low noise Application Specific Integrated Circuits for harsh environments. Our core activity is the design of mixed analogue and digital integrated circuits for the readout of various detector types, but we are also active in the design of integrated circuits for other areas of detector systems such as control and biasing. Many of our designs include bespoke Analogue-to-Digital Converters and standard interface elements such as I2C or SPI FPGA bus for convenient connection to data acquisition systems.

Our designs can be found instrumenting experiments in space, on synchrotrons, on Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics experiments, for systems varying in size from a few channels to millions of channels, such as in the CMS Silicon Tracker on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva.

All of our designs are created using state-of-the-art software tools and manufactured on standard commercial CMOS technologies. Our projects are fully documented and managed in compliance with an ISO9001 Quality Management System.

Based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the CMOS Sensor Design Group is world-leader in the design of advanced CMOS Image Sensor for scientific and other high-end applications, like bio-medical and industrial imaging.

Our sensors are manufactured in leading-edge CMOS imaging technologies, using state of the art Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools. We also have facilities for the detailed optical characterisation of the sensors and direct access to facilities for the test of the sensors with a broader range of radiation, including charged particles, and for the irradiation of the sensors.

The Application Engineering Group at RAL contains all the skills and external contacts necessary to design and integrate all the components of a typical detector system. The group provides data acquisition and detector control systems for STFC projects and customers, with a strong emphasis on integration of systems into the relevant science environment.

The broad range of experience within the group means that it is able to adapt quickly and efficiently to any new or more specialised requirements.

The Electronic Systems Design Group specialises in the design of Data Aquisition, trigger and control systems for large scale scientific applications. The Group has experts in system, board, FPGA and software design. Project areas include particle and nuclear physics, ISIS, Diamond Light Source, XFEL and STFC-funded research and development.

The Electronic Systems Support Group (ESSG) provides a complete service to realize instrument designs by providing schematic capture, PCB layout, managing component procurement, manufacture and assembly through our framework contracts; Class 10K ESD protected facility for die, sensor and detector attach with wire or flip-chip bonding; testing from ASICs to systems; commissioning and long-term maintenance of systems. We provide innovative ‘one-stop-shop’ solutions from prototypes to production builds.

The Detector Development Group (DDG) develops sensors, detectors and systems for a wide range of STFC science including Space Science, Diamond Light Source, ISIS, Particle Physics and university based activities.

DDG has an active program in CZT solid state detectors, gas based detectors for X-ray and neutron imaging, as well as capabilities in electron imaging and lately scintillator screens. We have capabilities in low noise circuit design and test as well as capability to produce solid state and gas sensors from raw materials. From these sensors we can produce full detector systems and test, deliver and commission the products. We have several radiation sources and X-ray tubes to test the energy and spatial resolution of detectors before delivery.

In addition to these activities, we have a good publication record and active knowledge exchange interaction though teaching, student supervision and patent and business initiatives.

In summary, we can project manage detector development activities from simulation through to delivery.


  • Detector and Electronics Division
    Marcus French
    STFC Technology
    Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
    Didcot, Oxfordshire
    OX11 0QX
    Tel: 01235 446484
  • ASIC Design Group
    Mark Prydderch
    Tel: 01235 446017
  • Application Engineering Group
    Tim Nicholls
    Tel: 01235 446413
  • Electronic Systems Design Group
    Rob Halsall
    Tel: 01235 445140
  • Electronic Systems Support Group
    Viraj Perera
    Tel: 01235 445692
  • CMOS Sensor Design Group
    Tel: 01235 446633
  • Detector Development Group
    Paul Seller
    Tel: 01235 446850

Our capabilities

The Detector Centre will draw upon existing capabilities from within STFC and the HEI base to yield world-class systems. Similarly, the Centre will also work closely with industry to adopt and deploy the latest in industrial standard for both scientific and commercial applications.

Here are some examples of Detector Systems Projects. These projects have stimulated the development of new technologies, Design Techniques and Facilities, which can be applied to the solutions of new problems.

The Detector Systems Centre will provide consultancy, modelling, proof of concept demonstrators and rapid prototyping in order to show the key opportunities arising from specific research outputs.

View the Technology site for more details on applications engineering.

We provide advanced solutions for imaging applications. Our portfolio includes the design of intelligent pixels, high speed sensors, radiation resistant designs, low noise devices and large area sensors for the detection of photons and charged particles. We have strategic relationships with leading edge CMOS foundries and use state of the art Computer Aided Design tools. We can also provide full camera solutions.

View further details on CMOS sensor design available on the Technology site.

Specialises in developing sensors, detectors and systems for a wide range of STFC science activities. There is an active program in developing CZT (Cadmium Zinc Telluride) solid state detectors, gas based detectors for X-ray and neutron imaging, as well as capabilities in electron imaging and lately scintillator screens.

View further details on sensor and detector design available on the Technology site.

Specialises in the design of DAQ (Data Acquisition), trigger and control systems for large scale scientific applications. We engage in system, board, FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) and software design.

View further details on board level systems design available on the Technology site.

Capabilities include; Flip chip: Gold stud bump, adhesive and indium bump bonding, wire bonding: Aluminium wedge bonding and Gold ball bonding, assembly and encapsulation, testing and inspection, and metrology.

View further details on interconnect technology available on the Technology site.

Provides a complete service to realize instrument designs by providing schematic capture, PCB (Printed Circuit Board) layout, managing component procurement, PCB manufacture and assembly; testing from ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) to systems; commissioning and long-term maintenance of systems.

View further details on systems support available on the Technology site.

Expertise in the design of analogue, digital and mixed signal application specific integrated circuits for detector systems. Has experience of working in a range of available CMOS (Complementary Metal-oxide Semiconductor) processes and has developed a heritage of low noise low power radiation hardened designs.

View further details on micro-electronics available on the Technology site.

Aims and objectives

The Vision of the Detector Systems Centre is to create a UK flagship Open Innovation centre at the Harwell and Daresbury Innovation Campuses.

The Centre will:

  1. Deliver a step change in the UK capability to develop innovative detector systems and promote wider innovation in the exchange of this knowledge and expertise with both industry and other science and technology research areas.
  2. Provide industry, the universities, and the science and technology research disciplines with improved access to world-class detector systems and sensor technology.
  3. Engage over 100 of STFC’s best scientists and engineers to work closely with university and industrial collaborators co-located at the Centre. This will create the necessary critical mass to deliver the ‘Open Innovation’ benefits that will accelerate innovative product and system development.
  4. Be the focus for access to an extensive range of advanced detector technologies and training in their development and application. It will enable industry and the Research Councils to integrate the best and most appropriate systems into future products and programmes.
  5. Deliver education and training, building on the existing Europe wide network of universities supported from STFC’s Microelectronics Support Centre by the expansion to industry of existing training schemes accredited by the universities and professional institutions.
  6. Exploit existing knowledge exchange networks and trade associations to maximise its industrial reach.

Getting involved

The development of high technology systems requires access to world leading technology suppliers and services in the UK and abroad. The STFC laboratories have built up, over many years, strong relationships with leading software, sensor and microelectronics suppliers.

The Centre will map technology requirements and enter into strategic agreements for their access and delivery.

The Centre will prioritise activities that cut across the UK research base. The 'Gateway' approach enables users to access technology developments throughout STFC's programme in this area.

Thematic workshops

These are being developed at the moment and they will be run in partnership with other research councils, government agencies and industry. They will be scheduled to take place in 2010 and the intention is to stimulate new collaborative ventures to act as a hub for the Centres new business.

  1. Healthcare and Life Sciences
  2. Security and Defence applications
  3. Large Scale Facilities
  4. Clean Technologies and energy

Last updated: 17 August 2021


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