[Editor's note: we are often so involved in our own designs and deadlines we don't have time to appreciate the efforts of others, where designs and designers push the limits of speed, performance, power, temperature, or other performance parameters. In our Extreme Design series (linked list of previous entries below) we look at some these.]
High-energy particle accelerators are helping researchers investigate big questions about the nature of matter and the origins of the universe. Typical experiments involve carefully controlled collisions between either intersecting particle beams or a particle beam and an atomic-scale target.
Creating collisions at nanometer scale with picoseconds of duration requires extreme precision in spatial and temporal control. At facilities such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research, more commonly known as CERN, and the Australian Synchrotron, high-performance digitizers are helping researchers achieve the precision and control needed to perform more and better experiments in less time. At the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy (HIT) Centre in Germany, precisely controlled beam energy is used in radiotherapy treatment of cancerous tumors. In applications such as these, digitizers must provide fast measurement throughput, very short "dead time" between measurements and excellent measurement fidelity.
This article describes the creation of high-energy particle beams and the control of such beams inside CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the Australian Synchrotron and HIT. It is presented as a pdf document (no registration required); to read it, click here.
About the author
Richard Soden works for the Modular Products Operation within the Electronic Measurements Group of Agilent Technologies. Since 2004 he has been a product manager for Agilent Acqiris high-speed digitizers. Prior to his work in defining new data-conversion technologies, Richard used such devices as an application engineer, project manager and development engineer in the material characterization and nondestructive testing industries. He holds a B.Eng. in optoelectronics and laser systems from the University of Hull, UK, and a Ph.D. in optical-based nondestructive testing techniques from UMIST, Manchester, UK.
Other articles in the EETimes/Planet Analog "Extreme Design" series:
1. "Extreme Design: Developing integrated circuits for -55 degC to +250 degC", click here
2. "Extreme Design: Ultra-compact embedded computer overcomes multiple design challenges"; click here
3. "Extreme design: SuitSat pushes engineers' limits"; click here
4. "Mars lander's chem lab is NASA's MECA"; click here
5. "Engineering "ESI" instead of "CSI"?, click here
6. "Extreme Design: Unique materials, design yield a motor than can operate in MRI's intense field", click here.