Data acquisition for ECAL upgrade: stories from the test beam
Hi everyone! My name is Giulia and I am in my last year of master degree in physics at the university of Milan Bicocca in Italy. I arrived at CERN as an intern in April, and since then I've had a particularly exciting and busy life! Here at CERN I am working on the development of the data acquisition system for the upgrade of the subsystem of CMS that measures the energy of electrons and photons, the electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL).
A bit of background: all the LHC detectors are about to undergo a major upgrade before the so-called phase 2, in which we aim at acquiring a very large amount of data. To do so the operating conditions will be much harder than they currently are, and the detectors have to change accordingly. In ECAL this will happen via an almost complete change of the electronics: the new components have already been designed and the first prototypes have been produced, so now it's time for testing!
As part of the DAQ (Data Acquisition) team I am taking part in several different projects aimed at testing the new electronic parts, checking whether they meet the expected requirements and providing feedback to the designers. For example, right now we are in the middle of a major data acquisition campaign that we called "test beam": this means that for two weeks we have the chance to test our full setup with an actual beam of particles. This gives us the chance to understand how the various components work when assembled together, and brings up problems and issues that in simpler tests wouldn’t arise. Since the beam time is limited, we need to make the most of it: this means taking shifts in order to acquire data 24/7, and whenever a problem comes up we have to be as fast as we can to solve it. As a newcomer to ECAL, this test beam period has been super interesting for me because it gave me the chance to experience many different levels of the data acquisition process, from laying the cables through the modules to moving through the complex code that manages all the components involved. I’ve also had the chance to learn a lot from all the experts I’m constantly surrounded by! Apart from being a very intense couple of weeks, the test beam is also a lot of fun: the whole team is brought together and we end up having lunches and dinners together, and sometimes even barbecues and pizza parties.
Test beam aside, I am very happy also in my “regular” daily life here - to be fair, I wouldn’t know how to define “regular”: there’s no day like another! This is really an extremely stimulating and dynamic environment, and I am surrounded by amazing people, both in the workplace and outside of it.
Simon Brix Andersen
Hi! I'm Simon, a short term intern from Aarhus University in Denmark. I am currently in my 5th term of my electronics engineering bachelor's degree. The degree is 3.5 years, which then includes half a year of mandatory internship. Therefore, I applied at CERN, and was lucky enough to get a position with the CMS HGCAL project. HGCAL is going to upgrade the current calorimeters endcap sections of CMS (HCAL and ECAL), and will be able to withstand the projected higher levels of radiation during the High Luminosity LHC era.
During my stay, I have not had just a single project, which was assigned to me in advance. Instead, I have been helping out with a few different things, which have aided in the testing and development of the HGCAL system. I have developed both electronics and software, which have enabled me to practice my entire skill set as an electronics engineer. The majority of the small projects have been focused towards preparing for a beam test, which the group is going to conduct in the beginning of August. To name a few of the projects I have been working on:
- A printed circuit board (PCB)
- A web application, which will make it possible to turn on and off our power supplies, to power cycle the electronics during the beam test. It also makes it possible to monitor and log the voltages and currents going to the electronics.
- Software which will do temperature measurements of different components in the system.
It has been my first time living abroad, and I have really enjoyed my stay at CERN a lot. Both when it comes to the work, which I have been doing together with my great colleagues, but also the social aspect of it. I have met a lot of nice people from all over the world, who I will hopefully be able to keep in touch with even when I return home.
Tracker Monitoring stories
Hi! My name is Jenny and I am a Technical Student from Norway. I am in my last year of a 5-year master program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where I study applied physics. I started my internship at CERN in September 2022, and I am working on the monitoring system of the CMS Tracker.
Often when you hear about work done at CERN, you will hear about physics briefings of new measurements or discoveries and work towards future detectors. However, it is also a huge part of the work at CERN to take care of and operate the current detectors. A part of the operations is to monitor the detectors, which include surveying safety systems, looking for errors in the detector and looking at trends in the performance of the detector. I have been working on the monitoring system of the CMS Tracker. The Tracker is the innermost part of the CMS detector and it has to withstand very high radiation doses. Even if the detector is made to work in these conditions, its performance will change over time. We therefore have to monitor its performance, to make sure it works as expected until it will be changed in the next detector upgrade.
More specifically, I have been working on the software and database systems for the Tracker Monitoring group. I have created automatic data transfers to make data used for monitoring easily accessible, and web pages for visualization of the data. The data used for monitoring is quite varied, and includes calibrations, temperatures and currents, and more specific data like masked channels, various error data and information about power cycles.
In addition to the work for the Tracker Monitoring group, I have also been part of the CMS Young Scientist Committee, a group of volunteers who arrange various events for CERN scientists who do not yet have a permanent position. This includes everything from walking tours to get to know the main CERN site site to job matching events to help early career scientists to connect with job recruiters.
My stay at CERN has been a great experience, not just in terms of the work done, but also socially. It has been a great opportunity to get good friends from all over the world. CERN's unique location has also allowed for travels, amazing hikes and snowboarding!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in CMS blogs are personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent official views of the CMS collaboration.