General Lab Information

Integrated Electronics

Signal Processing

The Instrumentation Division’s Signal Processing and Electronics Group covers all aspects of detector system and electronic readout chain design and development. Our strength comes from the proximity with which we work alongside Division detector scientists, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designers, and data acquisition (DAQ) engineers to fulfill the unique requirements that our electronics must satisfy. This integrated approach is critical for modern instrumentation systems, in which the specifications for different aspects are deeply interlinked.

Our Capabilities

  • Collaboration with scientists to define measurement phenomena for a variety of signal sources, including photons, electron clouds resulting from radioactive decay, and electrons ionized by scattered neutrons
  • Modeling and simulation of detector-readout systems to optimize the analog-signal transfer function, analog-to-digital converter sampling rate, digital signal processing filtering, and power consumption
  • Selection of materials and components best suited for each detector
  • Development of interconnection methods, such as wire and bump bonding
  • Evaluation of possible failure modes—for example, aging and electrostatic discharge—and methods to guarantee performance over expected detector lifetimes

Case Studies

Neutrino Detector Design

We led much of the detector and wire grid design, grid simulation, signal processing, high-voltage bias distribution, material selection, cable design, and cryogenic testing for three major neutrino experiments and detectors: the Micro Booster Neutrino Experiment (MicroBooNE), Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), and Short-Baseline Near Detector (SBND). For MicroBooNE, one of our key contributions was determining that very-low-frequency oscillations of the detector wires affecting the front-end ASIC input was causing periodic saturation at the amplifier outputs. Because of our troubleshooting, ASIC designers were able to compensate for the oscillations, successfully eliminating the saturation.

High-speed Digital Readouts

Upcoming radiation detectors have increasingly stringent radiopurity standards, prompting the replacement of conventionally used electronic materials, cables, and interconnects, all of which significantly contribute to radioactive background. To meet these standards, we are performing high-speed digital readout requiring impedance control on “clean” substrates such as fused silica over wire and bump bonds or on custom interconnects. Our approach is enabling the collection of high-quality data for the next-generation Enriched Xenon Observatory (nEXO) to detect a theorized form of extremely rare radioactive decay and the DarkSide experiment’s search for dark matter.