Overview of activities
The Nuclear Physics Group (NPG) at STFC Daresbury Laboratory performs world leading nuclear physics research and development. The NPG is part of the Technology at Daresbury Division within STFC’s Technology Department. The group’s principal role is to provide scientific, technical and engineering expertise to support and co-ordinate the programme of research and projects funded by STFC in the field of nuclear physics for the whole community. This programme is carried out at a number of overseas accelerator facilities and requires the design, construction and installation of specialised equipment at those facilities. The group undertakes this design and development work for both existing programmes and new initiatives, including programmes of development aimed at the generation and exploitation of new opportunities. The NPG is the largest support group in the UK and coordinates the engineering and technical effort available at the different UK universities to ensure optimum use of the community’s resource.
The experimental nuclear research community comprises the NPG and the Universities of Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Surrey, West of Scotland and York.
The UK community performs research in the areas of the study of nuclear structure, nuclear astrophysics, nuclear reactions and hadron physics. The research addresses fundamental questions in science such as, What are the Origins of the Elements? What is the Nature of Nuclear and Hadronic Matter?
The NPG constitutes a crucial part of the research infrastructure for UK nuclear physics. It has very strong links with the University groups and most projects are collaborative ventures. The role provided by the NPG is essential in ensuring continued UK access to overseas facilities by developing instrumentation and in realising and leading an internationally competitive research programme. The NPG has led the technical development of many of the large-scale experimental infrastructures used by the UK research community over the past decade. It has installed and will continue to support as required equipment in the accelerator laboratories of GANIL, Jyväskylä, Legnaro, GSI, TRIUMF, Oak Ridge, ANU, Argonne and CERN-ISOLDE. These overseas facilities hold the NPG in very high regard and the NPG is often their first contact point for assistance, advice and expertise.
The methodology of the NPG is to provide expertise in the key areas of: Nuclear physics support, co-ordination, project leadership; Mechanical design and engineering; Detector and array design; Computing hardware; Electronics (digital; pulse processing; tracking); Software (data acquisition; GUI production; system integration; general support for universities and local facilities); Simulations (detectors and detector systems); Whole system design; Project management; Target preparation (a unique facility in the UK).
The NPG has expertise in:
The NPG has played a leading role in major projects and provides ongoing support for many projects, including for generic items such as the MIDAS software platform. The NPG through its development and support of detection systems helps train the UK nuclear physics community. In addition to the specific project work the NPG will provides advice, consultation and effort for preliminary design studies and grant applications for future experiments and projects. The centralisation of the key expertise with specialisation in nuclear experiments ensures that the UK experimental programme remains at the forefront of technology and avoids duplication of effort and developments. The NPG also provides expertise in simulations in existing and new projects for NuSTAR, SPIRAL2, Jyväskylä and ISOLDE for example. The NPG operates laboratories dedicated to electronics and data acquisition, to target preparation and a detector laboratory all of which support the UK community.
The NPG has applied nuclear physics projects. Recent innovative projects include a hand held radiation monitor based on an integrated CZT/Si semiconductor detector and electronics system (PorGamRays) and a Ge detector development for PET imaging (SmartPET). The former was a DTI grant in collaboration with UK Universities and UK Industry and the latter a MRC supported project. The NPG currently has a grant with The University of Liverpool for the development of a SPECT medical imaging system. This project ProSPECTus was funded by the STFC PNAPAS (now CLASP) scheme.
The physicists in the group pursue internationally recognised research programmes. The active and leading involvement in research and leadership in international projects by members of the NPG is key to its relationship with the academic community and enables the group to keep at the forefront of scientific and technical advances in the subject. Science themes being addressed by the group include the understanding of nuclear matter at the extremes of rotation and isospin (exotic nuclei) and the understanding of nuclear matter.
The NPG provides a point of contact for the UK Nuclear physics community to the broad expertise in STFC by interacting with the other groups in Technology Department and other departments in STFC. The NPG provides direct and efficient contact with experts in for example Microelectronics, Instrumentation, Cryogenics, Accelerator Science, and provides access for the community to the communications directorate of STFC. The NPG has built up direct knowledge of the specialist skills in other groups and departments, which has proven to be beneficial to the wider UK community. Whilst specialising in nuclear physics the engineers and physicists in the NPG are also part of a wider group of engineers and scientists and can benefit from informal exchanges of ideas and the discussion of problems with their peers working in other fields. More details of the group’s activities can be found in the NPG web pages.
The members of the NPG often play a key role in the international nuclear physics arena in terms of advice and committee membership, direction of projects and the development of facilities, and will represent the group, the UK community and or STFC.
Objectives of the NPG
Major projects include
AGATA (link opens in a new window): Gamma-ray tracking spectrometer based Ge detectors NuSTAR (link opens in a new window): Detector systems for the FAIR facility. FAIR (link opens in a new window): part of the Despec project for FAIR. Development of Si detector, ASIC and data acquisition system. ProSPECTus (link opens in a new window)PORGAMRAYS (link opens in a new window): A Portable Gamma-Ray Spectrometer project based on CZT detectors SMARTPET (link opens in a new window): A small animal PET scanner based on planar Ge detectors Other projects can be found via the Group's project page (link opens in a new window)
Prof. John Simpson Head of Technology at Daresbury 26 April 2012