by Renato Turchetta. Published: 14 January 2013

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is a national laboratory in the UK. It is owned and operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the seven UK Research Councils. STFC is one of Europe’s largest multidisciplinary research organisations, supporting scientists and engineers world-wide. It operates world-class, large-scale research facilities, provides strategic advice to the government on their development, and manages international research projects in support of a broad cross-section of the UK research community. As the UK sponsor of nuclear and particle physics, STFC manages the UK subscription to CERN.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) is located in the green countryside close to Thames Valley. About 1 hour distance from London, RAL is only 30 km away from Oxford. It is there where in 1862, during a boat trip on the Thames, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson started narrating the fantastic adventures of a girl called … Alice! A few years later these adventures were turned in the world famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published by the Reverend under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll. It is then most appropriate for RAL to join Alice for another world-famous journey at the heart of particles and forces.

STFC’s CMOS Sensor Design Group is based at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The group started over 15 years ago, initially working for particle physics and space science applications, trying to bring the potential advantages of the then new CMOS Image Sensor technology to scientific areas. Since then the group has developed a large portfolio of sensors, working for a broad arrange of applications, spanning from scientific to high-end industrial. For example, the group has developed sensors for : Transmission Electron microscopy, Medical imaging, Ultra-fast imaging, Earth and solar observation, Star tracking, Single photon detection, Industrial analysis, Neutron imaging, Mass spectrometry and Synchrotron imaging.

The group is planning to contribute to the Inner Tracking System (ITS) Upgrade. We intend to bring our world-leading expertise in Monolithic Active Pixel Sensor (MAPS) technology to ALICE, working closely to the CERN microelectronics group as well as to the other groups involved in the experiment, to deliver a higher-performance, large area silicon tracker. We have already started Research and Development (R&D) taking low noise pixel solutions originally developed for imaging applications and adapting them to the tough requirements of the experiment.

The RAL-based CMOS Sensor Design group is very much looking forward to being an associate member of ALICE and bringing our enthusiasm and expertise to the collaboration.