Hamamatsu to supply silicon sensors for CERN upgrades

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European particle physics laboratory CERN has signed three contracts with Hamamatsu for the supply of silicon sensors for its ATLAS and CMS trackers.

In December 2018, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider and the largest machine in the world, switched off for a two-year technical stop. Its ATLAS and CMS detectors are currently undergoing significant maintenance and upgrades.

The CMS experiment is a 14,000-tonne detector that aims to solve a wide range of questions about the mysteries around the Higgs boson and dark matter. ATLAS investigates a wide range of physics, from the search for the Higgs boson, to extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter. Although it has the same scientific goals as the CMS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and a different magnet-system design.

All the LHC experiments at CERN want to exploit the full benefits of the accelerator’s upgrade, the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC), scheduled to start in 2026. The HL-LHC will produce between five and 10 times more collisions than the LHC, allowing more precision measurements of rare phenomena, and maybe even the detection of new particles that have never been seen before. 

Hamamatsu Photonics has already supplied the LHC with silicon sensors and avalanche photodiode technologies. The ATLAS and CMS upgraded trackers require production of about 45,000 6-inch sensor wafers, close to twice what was needed for existing trackers. An 8-inch silicon sensor production line has been implemented for the HGCAL, which will require close to 30,000 8-inch sensor wafers, corresponding to 600m2 of silicon sensors.

‘These contracts are essential to the next phase of CERN’s core research programme, namely the HL-LHC, as they will ensure the supply of high-quality silicon sensors that will contribute to important advancements for both experiments,’ said Anders Unnervik, head of procurement and industrial services at CERN.