Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre

Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre

The Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre (LSDC) provides Liverpool physics with a unique facility for contructing detectors and performing major R&D into the next generation of particle detection systems 

The LSDC was created by means of funds secured by the Department of Physics and the Astrophysics Institute of Liverpool John Moores University from the UK government’s Joint Infrastructure Fund initiative. Since 1998, the investment of £3.1M has enabled the establishment of a 450m2 clean room equipped with state-of-the-art wire-bonding, wafer-probing and metrology equipment, and the complete refurbishment of the Oliver Lodge Laboratory workshop. Officially opened on 11th September 2003 by Sir David King, the government's Chief Scientific Advisor, the LSDC has been at the heart of Liverpool HEP group's hardware contribution to major international experiments, such as ATLAS and LHCb.

The LSDC gives Liverpool a uniquely well-equipped facility for a Physics Department. It makes possible the assembly and testing of large integrated detector systems based on sensors with spatial resolution of typically a few microns. Professor Phil Allport, Director of the centre, said: "The Semiconductor Detector Centre is equipped with state of the art microelectronics assembly equipment. It makes possible the construction and testing of detector systems of areas of many square metres, built from hundreds of individual sensors, measuring with spatial resolution of typically a few thousandths of a millimetre. Such high precision large arrays are required in the first instance by scientists looking at the fundamental building blocks of matter and the extremes of the Universe."

He added: "Although initial applications will support science in particle physics and astronomy, along with research in nuclear physics, such sensor systems are certain to have wide applications in other areas."

Wirebonding in the Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre

Image: Wirebonding in the Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre

The LSDC has made possible major involvement in R&D work, funded by PPARC/STFC and the EU, in preparation for the construction of ‘pixel’ arrays of detectors for experiments at accelerator projects beyond LHC. New STFC/EPSRC/MRC funding for semiconductor detector developments for Nuclear Physics is now also forthcoming. The Nuclear Physics Group has developed and built several Silicon detectors for the ALPHA experiment at CERN and for the future FAIR facility (R3B Silicon Tracker).  The Nuclear Physics Group will apply for further grants for the AGATA project and a number of applied projects. Its facilities are also beginning to be exploited by the Astrophysics Research Institute of John Moores University where staff are now pursuing instrument work, again funded by PPARC, following the successful deployment of the ‘robotic’ Liverpool Telescope at La Palma. New funding bids to Research Council Technology initiatives (e.g. Basic Technology Fund, Faraday Partnership), and multi-disciplinary proposals within the University and beyond, are also being actively prepared.

The LSDC has proved invaluable to the groups using it and has enabled us to engage in collaborations with other Departments within Liverpool, as well as within the large international 'Big Science' collaborations. It has allowed projects to be won for the UK which would otherwise have ended up being led by overseas groups. Increasing the UK's competetiveness on the international stage is important for our scientific prestige, and the detailed understanding of the detectors we produce will bring us significant advantages in interpreting the data from these highly complex experiments.