Radiation Hardness Studies for High-Energy Physics and Space Missions

The Bern cyclotron is also used as an irradiation facility for radiation hardness studies. Recently we have irradiated components for the upgrade of the ATLAS pixel detector at CERN, and validated the performance after irradiation of parts used in the JUICE space mission to Jupiter (work carried out in collaboration with the Space and Planetology (WP) division of the Physics Institute of the University of Bern). We have proved that we can simulate 12 years of irradiation of Jupiter in 30 minutes! Collaborations for radiation hardness studies extend beyond the University of Bern (CERN, University of Geneva). Next to the irradiation bunker, the facility offers a physics lab where experimental setups can be installed to evaluate the effects of radiation.

If interested in the possibility of irradiating components at the Bern cyclotron, please contact Prof. Saverio Braccini at saverio.braccini@lhep.unibe.ch.

The irradiation facility

Radiation hardness studies at the BTL are performed using a specialised setup that can be adapted according to the requirements of the study. The irradiation of the device under test (DuT) is performed by continuous monitoring (UniBEaM and Pi2) of the beam characteristics and of the dose. A remotely controlled movable stage allows for the consecutive irradiation of several components without accessing the BTL bunker.  

Irradiation setup
Irradiation setup. It consists of a quadrupole doublet (1), a beam viewer (2), the target vacuum valve (3), the collimator and beam current measurement system (4), the two-dimensional beam profile monitor (5), and an aluminium extraction window (6). The DuT is mounted and aligned on the remote controllable 2D stage (7).


Example of radiation hardness study conducted with the Bern cyclotron

The figure below shows a radiation hardness study conducted with the Bern cyclotron.

Inside view of irradiation setup and example of measurement of irradiated electrical cable
Left: Irradiation setup of the electrical cable that will be used in the data transmission of the Inner Tracker pixel detector in the ATLAS experiment during the High-Luminosity phase of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Geneva. This cable is rolled up on a rotating spool, to allow for the exposure to the beam of the entire length of the cable. The spool is installed inside a vacuum chamber: this allows for irradiation at high-doses without dispersing excessive radiation into the air. Right: Example of a measurement conducted on the electrical cable, to verify its properties as a function of the absorbed dose (in this plot, measurement of the cable's insertion loss as a function of the data transmission frequency for several irradiation levels).

A novel approach to study neutron fields from particle accelerators

A novel methodology to characterise neutron fields produced by particle accelerators has been developed by the Medical Applications of Particle Physics group at AEC-LHEP led by Prof. Saverio Braccini in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano and its spin-off company RAYLAB. It is based on a novel neutron spectrometer named DIAMON and was validated using the CERF facility at the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) at CERN (neutrons produced by 120 GeV protons, kaons and pions) and at the Bern medical cyclotron (neutrons produced by 18 MeV protons). This successful endeavour paves the way towards the development of a methodology for producing controlled proton induced neutron beams with medical cyclotrons for research and industrial applications.

The results have been recently published on Scientific Reports:
Braccini, S., Casolaro, P., Dellepiane, G. et al. A novel experimental approach to characterize neutron fields at high- and low-energy particle accelerators. Sci Rep 12, 16886 (2022)


Selected publications

J. Anders, S. Braccini, T. Carzaniga, A. Ereditato, A. Fehr, F. Meloni, C. Merlassino, A. Miucci, M. Rimoldi, M. Weber, A facility for radiation hardness studies based on the Bern medical cyclotron; J. Anders et al 2022 JINST 17 P04021;