by Iva Raynova. Published: 16 December 2015

During the period 18-20 November 2015 an ALICE delegation, consisting of Paolo Giubellino, Giacinto De Cataldo and Pierre Vande Vyvre, visited the University of Malta. The goal of the visit was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, after which the University became an associate member of the collaboration. Four students and five professors from the University will contribute to three projects in total – O2, LHC Interface and the High Momentum Particle Identification (HMPID).

Kevin Napoli, a student in the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, together with his two supervisors, Dr Kevin Vella and Dr Keith Bugeja, have already begun their work for the O2 project. They are evaluating and benchmarking a tool called Mesos to be used as part of the Dynamic Deployment System (DDS). O2 is a powerful data processing system, which is going to combine the functionalities of “Online”, “Offline” and the High Level Trigger in ALICE during LHC’s third run. It will compress the data by reconstructing the events, which will allow efficient storage of all of them.

The HMPID is a detector, based on the Ring Imaging Cherenkov (RICH) technique for particle identification. The HMPID is now taking data and during the ALICE upgrade (Long Shutdown 2), its trigger has to be adapted and its readout electronics and firmware need to be improved. These three components complement each other.

Stefano Calleja, a Master’s student at the University of Malta, is focusing on the readout firmware development, which will be complemented by a new trigger. Jordan Lee Gauci, a PhD student, is working on the design and the implementation of a trigger module – an electronic card – which will be the interface between the trigger system in ALICE and the detector. Clive Seguna, another PhD student, is designing an upgrade of the readout electronics, which should allow the CPV and in principle HMPID as well, to reach a readout rate of 50 kHz. If its implementation turns out to be possible, the first prototype will be realized by the Department of Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics of the University of Malta, led by Professor Edward Gatt. Then CPV will take care for the electronics mass production and its installation on the detector during Long Shutdown 2.

The pattern recognition is an essential aspect of the HMPID detector. Dr Gianluca Valentino and Dr Johann Briffa are going to improve the pattern recognition technique by fast imaging processor, which will be based on graphic processor units, or neural networks.

Dr Gianluca Valentino is also going to contribute to the LHC Interface project by improving the control software of the Beam Condition Monitor (BCM), which can dump the beams if high beam background values are detected close to ALICE. The LHC Interface project is responsible for the data exchange between ALICE and the LHC. It measures the luminosity, the beam timing and the beam intensity, then gives feedback to the LHC to determine if the beams are colliding properly inside ALICE.

Giacinto De Cataldo, project leader of HMPID and LHC Interface, shares his impressions from the visit: “From my point of view our visit in the University of Malta was very successful. It is a very active institution, full of young people. I believe they will have a very important role in the three projects they are going to work for and I hope that more students could join us in the future”.