Technical groups 2022

Computer Technology (CT)

TGL Ronald Starink

Highlights 2022

  • Successfully bringing the New Small Wheel temperature & B-field monitoring to the ATLAS Detector Control System.
  • Maintenance of the ATLAS Barrel Alignment, often remotely supporting engineers on site.
  • Development of the required tools to commission and operate the LHCb SciFi detector and supporting the physicists with their use in commissioning the detector.
  • Fixing issues caused by memory saturation in an LHCb SciFi cavern machine, resulting from too many interactions with WinCC project data points.
  • Considerable effort was put in making compute clusters dedicated to gravitational wave data analysis available and usable for end-users. Also various compute codes for gravitational-wave research were installed and configured on this cluster.
  • Contributions to gravitational-waves research projects were made on the use of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for Machine Learning to speed up sky localisation of sky resources, on improving accuracy of analysis by combining results from different gravitation-waves data-analysis pipelines, and on multimessenger astrophysics, aiming to use observations from electromagnetic radiation to improve gravitational-wave parameter estimation.
  • Design and installation of a data processing system using real-time PCs for ETPathfinder.
  • Investigation on a new deployment system for managing computer systems. This resulted in the choice for Foreman, which is being used in a pre-production setup.
  • Replacement of the entire virtualisation environment including storage, which hosts Nikhef’s core ICT services.
  • Deployment of Mattermost as an institute-wide chat platform.
  • Various activities were performed in support of the renovation of the Nikhef buildings, including design and purchase for new wireless and wired network infrastructures, installation of network equipment in newly created Satellite Equipment Rooms to provide temporary and permanent network facilities in offices and laboratories, preparing the purchase of5 modern audio/video facilities in meeting rooms and facilitating the moving of workspaces.
  • Continuous attention was given to improving the structural security and logging of ICT systems and to defend against incidental large-scale cyber attacks on our infrastructure.
  • Operating our own Security Operations Centre with fully automatic alerting in case of suspicious activities. This enables to scan and process log data from various sources in a privacy-aware way and only requires human intervention to follow up on an alert.
  • The RCAuth certificate authority to issue certificates based on a successful authentication to a Federated Identity Management System was put in production on three sites over three countries. There is interest in the technology behind RCAuth for high-availability web services with database backends.
  • Organisation of activities to help end-users to effectively use the advanced computing and storage resources, such as our refreshed Computing Course and monthly Office Hours where end-users can ask any computing-related question to system experts.
  • Organisation and hosting of the CVMFS workshop, Token Hackathon, and International Gravitational Waves Observatory Network Face to Face meeting.
  • Launch of the Jupyterhub notebook service.
  • Structural contribution to the work of the Physics Data Processing group on large-scale computing projects.


Electronics Technology (ET)

TGL Ruud Kluit

Highlights 2022

  • ATLAS/FELIX DAQ system design is continuing towards phase II. The Nikhef ET team contributes to the fast data transport, test features and emulators of the periphery, and firmware coordination of the development team.
  • The new LHC/LHCb Scintillating Fiber detector with electronics developed by ET members has successfully been commissioned and is now in operation. Some optimization is still ongoing.
  • For the upgrade of the LHC/ALICE Inner Tracker system (ITS3),  prototype circuits have been designed as Integrated Circuits: a data serializer, two LDO circuits and a bandgap reference. These will be tested in 2023 and will be completed for integration in the final Pixel chip.
  • Senseis project: For seismic background noise measurements that are required for Gravitational Wave experiments a special MEMS sensor with control electronics is in development. The electronics is integrated in an ASIC, and dedicated test facilities are being built. Progress is made in understanding the MEMS characteristics for this extremely sensitive system, and a next version of the ASIC is in design and will be produced in Q2 of 2023.
  • A special sensor/actuator LVDT is in development for very accurate positioning of mechanical parts in gravitational wave experiments. And in particular inside the vacuum system. It comprises dedicated electronics, and a special acLVDT device that is a custom made device by Nikhef.
  • As a generic R&D activity, the time-synchronization system called “White-Rabbit” (WR) was developed further. As successor of the large system/test-board (SPEC7, a “BabyWR” has been developed and tested.
    This new WR development was started to implement this technology in Virgo (upgrade) and ETpathfinder.
  • Km3net: production of Digital optical modules (DOM’s), and the integration of Detection Units (DU’s) with 18 DOM’s has continued during 2022.
    Also the final steps in the production of the White-Rabbit switch that will be implemented in the phase II network of km3net are realized. For phase II, the WR timing synchronization will then be further implemented in the Km3Net experiment.
  • New electronics was designed for Ptolomy, where extremely small RF signals need to be detected (~26 GHz). The first prototype board demonstrated very good performance and is a good starting point for continuation of the design of more challenging sensing (RF) electronics that is required for this experiment. It requires new special design techniques and very advanced RF test and measurement equipment for verification of the electronics.
  • LISA: in the ET EMC chamber, RF tests are being performed on newly designed housing of special electronics that must be installed in the future LISA experiment. This work is done in collaboration with SRON. The actual measurements are done by Nikhef engineers.

Mechanical Technology (MT)

TGL Patrick Werneke

Highlights 2022

  • LHCb Vertex Locator (VELO):
    • Installation of the VELO detectors at CERN.
  • ATLAS Strip Endcap (ITk):
    • Endcap components machined and delivered  to Nikhef: wheels, stiffener disk, service trays;
    • Assembly of the 1st Endcap structure almost complete;
    • Welding and manufacturing of the cooling manifolds well underway and a large portion of them has been done;
    • Assembly of the capillary test station from CERN  for CERN done and to be shipped in the beginning of 2023.
    • Atlas ITk 1/6th system test finished, shipped to DESY and assembled.
  • ETpathfinder:
    • All six 5-6m tall vacuum towers have been installed and found to be leak-tight after testing;
    • The first deliveries of the internal mechanics have arrived. These will be precision cleaned and installed in the UHV environment inside the vacuum towers in 2023;
    • Several prototypes were built and tested or are being tested:
      • The prototype of the large Geometric Anti-Spring (GAS) filter has been installed at Nikhef. Tuning of the filter blades will happen in 2023;
      • A prototype of the so-called “Movable masses” has been made. This component allows one to shift the center of mass of the suspended optical table, giving us the ability to adjust the (static) tilt of the table;
      • A partial prototype of the “Bench locking mechanism” has been made and assembled at Nikhef. This “joystick-like” part of the mechanism allows the user to intuitively position the optical table in 3 in-plane DOFs simultaneously with 2 hands;
  • LISA
    • The EMI shielding performance has been tested, however this showed that the performance was not sufficient yet. This was an important, but expected, indication that EMC was a critical design variable. Several sub prototypes have been produced and tested at Nikhef, improving the EMI shielding step by step with minimal compromise on stability performance and alignment requirements. The performance has increased significantly and we will continue…
    • The thermally-stable housing/second prototype including electronics has been designed and produced, for which tests will be performed in 2023. A Rasnik set-up has been designed and is currently in production to verify the stability requirements of this prototype while applying vibrational and thermal loads;
    • We have started with designing the final prototype, which should meet all the requirements. Though we do consider the possibility that not all requirements will be met at once, such that a redesign is expected. Though we are on schedule to meet the technical readiness level 6 out of 9 in 2023.