Dr Alexander Deisting

Research interests

My main interest is the development of novel particle detectors or the improvement of existing detector technologies to achieve better performance figures. A good example for this may be the upgrade of ALICE Time Projection Chamber (TPC), I worked on before joining RHUL. ALICE is an experiment at CERN's large hadron collider and the ALICE TPC is its main tracking detector. The readout rates needed to operate the ALICE TPC in the upcoming LHC Run 3 required a significant improvement of the detector. This was solved by developing new readout chambers for the TPC. A processes starting with fundamental R&D with small prototype detectors, moving on to the construction of larger prototypes and their deployment at test beams and ended with engineering studies for final design readout chambers and their production -- all keeping in mind that the chambers have to endure at LHC for the next decade -- without the possibility of an hardware intervention.

Here at RHUL I am working on a novel type of particle detector -- a TPC with a hybrid of optical and charge readout. We use cameras to record 2D images of the particles crossing the TPC's volume while we aim at reconstructing the third coordinate, perpendicular to the camera's imaging plane, from charge signals create as the ionisation electrons liberated by the particles crossing the TPC are collected at the anodes. Doing so we are currently working on a 50 l and 1000 l prototype with different technologies. Currently we are still doing still a lot of work on the detector hardware and we are developing simulation and analysis code to gain the most of our data. There are usually possibilities for mini-projects, 3rd year projects, master thesis -- also Phd Thesis are possible.

Another project I am involved in is a GCRF funded project on applying methods from astro-particle physics to the real-life task of measuring lead contamination in water. An estimated 26 million people in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of lead exposure and there is no safe threshold for lead ingestion. Radio assay methods are not easily accessible in regions at risk, therefore a low cost and easy to use sensor is desirable. Pb occurs together with traces of radioisotopes with decay energies which can be detected by silicon sensors -- to some extend even by such sensors as the camera in a smart phone. At RHUL we are examining the potential of silicon sensors designed for optical wavelengths when applied to nuclear decay radiation. At the current stage we are working with scientific sensors as well as smart phone cameras -- and also on this project we are looking for

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