CDF's "siliconers" are first line of detector defense
Clockwise: Satyajit Behari, Mark Mathis, Oscar Gonzalez-Lopez, Thomas Junk, Miguel Mondragon, Ricardo Eusebi, Alexander Sukhanov, John Freeman and Sergo Jindariani.
Every Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. in CDF, like the Olympic torch hand off, one silicon detector group member passes the shift pager to another.
"Silicon detector experts are the first line of defense when problems arise," said Sergo Jindariani, co-leader of the silicon detector group.
The silicon detector, which was installed in 2001 for CDF's Run II, is the prototype CMS and ATLAS were modeled after. This makes the information the CDF detector takes crucial for the LHC. The detector precisely measures a particle's trajectory or path.
"Silicon detectors give us access to physics that we could not do otherwise. Their level of precision has changed the paradigm in hadron collider physics," said Rob Roser, CDF co-spokesperson.
In order to get such precise measurements, the silicon detector is located next to the beampipe, a very harsh environment for its delicate sensors.
To keep the detector running well, a team of 13 silicon detector specialists take turns in week-long, 24/7 shifts watching over and responding to any problems with the detector seen by the shift crew in the CDF Main Control Room. Each expert on shift cannot be more than 20 minutes away from CDF and must be near a computer that has the software necessary to fix the problem. During major detector access, silicon detector group members, or siliconers, must be present in the CDF main control room.
"You have to be vigilant and very alert all the time," said Satyajit Behari, co-leader of the CDF silicon detector group.
Although the lifestyle of a siliconer can be hectic at times, the dedicated members of the group know their work is important to new physics discoveries. Because of their diligence, more than 90 percent of the detector's channels are operational eight years later, and there have been no major detector failure incidents in the past three years.
The experts are trained to address operational issues in data taking. Each one must take eight to 10 shifts a year, although there are times, like an electronics board failure, when additional experts may need to come in. Sometimes former members of the group are called in to help, which they do without hesitation.
"Once a siliconer, always a siliconer," both Behari and Jindariani said in unison.
-- Tia Jones