A large part of the realization of a successful research project is due to the instrumentation that is used to bring it about. A careful design, specifically tailored to the needs of a project, and the construction of the different components that constitute telescopes, cameras and similar tools, are the aim of instrumentation science.
LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty): LHCb is an experiment set up to explore what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the Universe we inhabit today. The Experimental Particle Physics group before the creation of the ICCUB-TECH unit, and then the ICCUB-TECH itself has been involved in the construction of this experiment and in its current upgrade. The tasks performed at the beginning included the design, production, commissioning and maintenance of the Scintillating Pad Detector (SPD), a subsystem belonged to the LHCb trigger, capable of distinguish between charged particles and photons at 40 MHz rate. During the next LHC shutdown, at 2018-19, the LHCb detectors will be upgraded. The Technical Unit is involved designing and testing the PACIFIC and the ICECAL, two Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) for the tracker and the calorimeter. ICECAL is a read-out and integrator at a rate of 40MHz designed specifically to present low noise due to the reduction in the gain of the PMTs to lengthen their lifespan in the HL-LHC. The tracker system instead will undergo major changes and replaced by new technologies in order to cope with the increased hit occupancy and the higher radiation dose. A detector made of scintillating fibres read out by silicon photomultipliers (SiPM) is envisaged for this upgrade. The Low Power ASIC for the SCIntillator FIbres TraCker (PACIFIC), designed in the ICCUB-TECH in collaboration with Heidelberg University, LPC and IFIC will be connected to SiPMs with no interface components between them. It will handle 64 channels with analog signal processing and digitization. The first stage is a current conveyor followed by a fast shaper (≈10ns to cope with signal arrival times) a double gated integrator (to avoid dead time) and a dual track and hold (to merge integrators outputs). The digitization is done using a 3 bits non-linear flash ADC operating at 40MHz. After digitization, the data is encoded and serialized (two channels together) to reduce the number of transmission lines needed. The power consumption should be kept below 8mW per channel.
Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA): The CTA project is the next generation ground-based observatory for gamma-ray astronomy at very-high energies. It will serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and will provide a deep insight into the non-thermal high-energy universe. CTA will build on the technology of current ground-based detectors, utilizing three classes of telescopes to cover CTA’s energy range (20 GeV to 300 TeV).
The ICCUB-TECH have designed and prototyped Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) for some of the telescope cameras: a preamplifier (PACTA), two amplifiers (ACTA/MUSIC) and a trigger unit (L0). PACTA is a low noise ASIC, 10pA/sqrt(Hz), 500 MHz bandwidth, double gain in differential mode and low power consumption. ACTA has two channels with three path each (two capacitive differential outputs and one low impedance differential output), SPI configurable and low power consumption. L0 is a versatile trigger ASIC for Cherenkov Telescopes and MUSIC is an SPI configurable eight channels amplifier for SiPM readout with differential analog and digital outputs for each channel and also, a differential output to sum up the selected analog channels.
PACTA and L0 have been selected for the Large Size Telescopes (LST) cameras and more 10000 channels have been produced for each design; PACTA, ACTA and L0 are also selected for the Medium Size Telescopes (MST-NectarCAM) camera and MUSIC is one of the technologies under study for the SST array (based on SiPM sensors) and next generation of SiPM-LST array.
Solar Orbiter: The ICCUB is part of the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager instrument for the Solar Orbiter mission (SO/PHI). The ICCUB responsibility is the development and implementation of an Image Stabilization System (ISS) that includes a camera, a controller for a piezo-electric based Tip-Tilt mirror, and the control firmware for the FPGA that controls the whole system. The ISS has been optimized minimizing the power consumption while reaching the required performance. The ISS Flight and Flight Spare Models have been delivered, and have successfully passed the integration tests.
IAXO: The International Axion Observatory (IAXO), under development at the moment, is one of the next generation axion helioscopes. The experiment aims to detect axions emitted at the Sun's core. IAXO demands the detection of gamma rays at very low background levels. ICCUB-TECH is working on the development of a radiopure data acquisition electronics, in order to improve the sensitivity of the experiment, reducing the background of the detector. Our work involves mainly the design of a radiopure acquisition board for low background experiments working with MicroMegas detectors.
SIDE/MEGARA/BIG-BOSS: The ICCUB has been responsible for the development of the electronics for the fiber positioner built by the AVS Company (Spain). This positioner has had successive prototypes starting with the one for the SIDE/GTC, up to the MEGARA/GTC (3th generation) MOS spectrograph. Both will operate in the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC). The positioner has also been proposed for the BIG-BOSS Spectrograph (NOAO-USA).
MIRADAS is a 3rd generation near-infrared multi-object echelle spectrograph working at spectral resolution of 20.000 for the GTC which is expected to start operations in 2019. The ICCUB, as member of the MIRADAS consortium, is in charge of the design of the software that controls the deployable probe arms. A first test of the software with the Probe arms in November 2017 has been done with successful results.
TFRM (Fabra-ROA Montsec Telescope): The ICCUB is involved in the improvement and use of the telescope, which has now begun observing Space debris (EU and ESA programs), Extrasolar planets, optical counterparts of X-ray and Gamma-ray binaries and Near-Earth objects (NEOs).