Fermilab honored to host SOI pixel workshop
KEK's Yasuo Arai, Fermilab's Grzegorz Deptuch, and OKI Semiconductor's Masao Okihara and Ikuo Kurachi look over design ideas during the recent SOI collaboration meeting.
From its inception, particle physics has confronted a Catch-22: how do you measure something without somehow altering it? A fresh-faced young German named Heisenberg published a paper on this conundrum in 1927, and the question has bedeviled scientists ever since.
SOI (silicon on insulator) pixel detectors, a new technology in which Japan leads the world, may offer a dramatic solution to this problem by combining several functions in one slice of silicon, greatly reducing the mass interfering with a particle's path.
Minuscule chips only a few hundred micrometers thick, the SOI chips contain both electronic readout and sensors, demand little power, and provide two-dimensional readings of a particle's location. Although currently far from perfected, the chips offer several advantages over conventional (CMOS) pixel detectors; and if continuing R&D is successful, the technology could be used across myriad applications--especially large future undertakings like the ILC.
Recently, KEK's Yasuo Arai, the man behind SOI pixel technology for high-energy physics, asked Fermilab to host a two-day workshop so that all the key players could meet. In the past, most workshops were held in Japan, and collaborators attended via video conference. Because of Fermilab's continuous contributions to developing the SOI pixel process, this year KEK brought the annual meeting to Illinois.
Lead by Grzegorz (Gregory) Deptuch, Fermilab electrical engineers and scientists talked with groups from KEK and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, among others, along with leaders from Japan's OKI Semiconductor, the only foundry that makes the chips.
"It was good to meet here and exchange information," Arai said. "Fermilab proposed some modifications, so we wanted to discuss the best way to improve the design and production process."
Ray Yarema, head of the Fermilab microelectronics group, said the workshop was invaluable. "It's the first time we've had direct communication with the foundry," he said. "It resulted in great interactions between OKI and our people, and I hope it will lead to a closer working relationship with KEK."
OKI is planning to make new wafers this summer, which will incorporate design ideas from the meeting.
-- Andrea Mustain