16 Jun 2011



The PPD New Detector Initiatives group brings together specialists in a cross-disciplinary group to investigate the Knowledge Exchange and Intellectual Property opportunities for our world-leading technology.




The Particle Physics Department New Detector Initiatives group brings together specialists in a cross-disciplinary group to investigate the Knowledge Exchange and Intellectual Property opportunities for our world-leading technology, address the grand challenges of the STFC Futures programme, and provide the skills and facilities needed to create the international projects of the future.

Cherwell Sensor



New imaging devices can detect smaller lesions, leading to earlier treatment. They can compensate for the movement of the patient (such as breathing) during treatment. An example of the potential is an improved PET scanner that uses highly sensitive crystals and high-speed electronics to produce a more accurate scan.

Contact: Barbara Camanzi.


FFAG accelerators for hadron therapy

​Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in people under the age of 75. Compact accelerators such as FFAGs can be used in hadron therapy and Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT).

Contact: Rob Edgecock.

In-vivo dosimetry

Studies have shown it can be very difficult to accurately measure much radiation has been delivered in medical procedures. Under-exposure means the illness is not treated and over-exposure can lead to complications. By placing intelligent, very small dosimeters (less than the size of a grain of rice) under the skin, the radiation dose can be continuously monitored and readout using a wireless connection, leading to better clinical outcomes.

Contact: Giulio Villani.

Dosimetry for Radiopharmaceuticals


Conventional radiotherapy uses beams external to the patient. However, in some treatments radioactive materials are introduced into the body of the patient. The most common of these is Iodine-131 for the treatment of thyroid cancers or hyperthyroidism. New radiopharmaceuticals are the subject of much current research in medicine.

It is essential to be able to measure the radiation dose to the patient to ensure a successful treatment. In principle, the dose can be calculated from images of the radiation emitted by the radiopharmaceutical. We have recently begun work with scientists at the Royal Surrey County Hospital to evaluate a small and versatile imaging detector. This is based on STFC’s Hexitec technology, using hybrid pixel sensors coupled to a novel collimator.

Contact: John Matheson.

Advanced Nuclear Reactors

Proton accelerators could be used to drive nuclear power plants without the dangers of a meltdown. Other applications include the transmutation of highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors to more manageable and less dangerous low-level waste.

Contact: Rob Edgecock.

Advanced Accelerator Designs

Go to the accelerators page for details.​

Radioactive Source Monitoring

The Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) impose stringent requirements for the use and control of ionising radiation. All radioactive sources have to be accounted for and their whereabouts known at all times. PPD are prototyping a new system that uses RFID tags to automatically register the movement of radioactive sources and so replace the error-prone manual system. This will be of use to industry, hospitals and anywhere that has to handle radioactive sources.

Contact: Tim Durkin.

Software Simulation

Before an experiment can be built, it has to be simulated but most existing computer programs are inflexible and too specific to one experiment. They can take many years to create and c​an only be used by specialists. PPD are experts in running and creating generic, fast, flexible simulations that can be quickly written to simulate any prototype. Variations can be created and tested within hours, allowing for rapid prototyping and saving money on physical testing.

Contact: Jan Strube.

Advanced Silicon Technology

​Devices built with silicon sensors are used in particle physics, nuclear physics and astronomy but their widest use is in consumer and commercial products such as digital cameras. A silicon technology called MAPS has the potential to be very fast, highly granular with very small pixels, low power and resistant to radiation. Unlike bespoke silicon manufacturing processes, MAPS devices can be made using standard commercial silicon fabrication methods at very low cost.

Contact: Fergus Wilson.

TeraPixel Active Calorimeter (TPAC) sensor​


The TeraPixel Active Calorimeter (TPAC) sensor is a novel Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors (MAPS) device developed for use as the active layers of a large area, digital electromagnetic calorimeter (DECAL) at a future e+e collider. Further applications, which include the tracking and vertex systems for future lepton colliders and LHC upgrades have been proposed and it is therefore essential to characterise the behaviour of the sensor for these applications. 


FORTIS sensor


The FORTIS sensor is the a 4T CMOS Monolithic Active Pixel Sensor aimed at Particle Physics. The FORTIS sensor is designed in an 0.18μm CMOS Image Sensor technology, INMAPS. It has a 12μm thick epitaxial layer. The 4T structure results in a very high S/N ratio. The FORTIS has a version with deep Pwell areas inside the pixel. These Pwell layers mask the Nwells hence allowing full CMOS in-pixel structures without charge loss. ​


NDI_Cherwell_hit_resolution.pngCherwell is a Monolithic Active Pixels Sensor (MAPS) device designed at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). It is a 4T CMOS sensor in 180 nm technology intended for use in particle detection and uses an INMAPS design to provide improved charge collection.

MAPS devices are considered as suitable technologies for detecting ionising radiation. They have a few characteristics which make them particularly interesting for applications in particle physics. They can be manufactured and thinned to a thickness of , operated with large signal-to-noise ratios (S/N) at room temperature and have the possibility to use in-pixel data processing.

The design for the Cherwell sensor came from two previous designs FORTIS and TPAC. The emphasis of these two designs was for CMOS sensors for particle detection. TPAC was designed for use in digital calorimeters with potential uses in a linear colliders. FORTIS was designed for use in tracking and vertexing, and as a test for the INMAPS process with a deep P-well implant with no circuits inside. The Cherwell sensor incorporates lessons from both designs and contains both DECAL and tracking parts. The deep P well also contains active circu