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INtelligent Fast Interconnected and Efficient Devices for Frontier Exploitation in Research and Industry

Final Report Summary - INFIERI (INtelligent Fast Interconnected and Efficient Devices for Frontier Exploitation in Research and Industry)

Launched in 2013, INFIERI is an inter-disciplinary and multi-national network, aimed to train young researchers and engineers in developing, designing and managing intelligent devices and tools for cutting-edge applications in the fields of Astrophysics, Particle Physics, Medical Physics, and Telecommunications, also exploiting their technological spin-offs and crossfield synergies.
The work has led to ongoing international cooperation between industry and academia to bridge the gap between frontier research and cutting-edge industrial solutions. It addressed the large and growing challenge of dealing with vast amounts of data from sources in these fields as diverse as fundamental or applied research and high technology.

Astrophysics, particle physics, medical physics and telecommunications research share the need to handle, visualise and interpret large amounts of data at very high rates, even in real time, from multiple distributed sources. This is the case with arrays of digital devices that are assembled to form a medical imaging instrument. It also applies to the large arrays of detectors spread over kilometres to form terrestrial telescopes. This is also the case with the compact large area Silicon tracking systems, as huge digital cameras finely segmented (about 1 Giga of pixels and a few hundred millions of strips) enabling charged particles to be tracked and thus to reveal and visualize the produced event when high energy beams collide at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

The Research & Training program therefore focused on specific case applications, which require innovative technical solutions for an extremely fast on-instrument signal processing, a proficient event selection phase, an efficient transmission and a final step of high-level data filtering. These applications included: i) new ways to exploit the tracking system information in real-time trigger filters for exploring New Physics in the harsh environment of the LHC, running at the highest luminosity (HL-LHC) in the next decade; ii) advanced data systems processing for detecting the high gamma rays of the Cerenkov Telescope Array (CTA) or the RF signals of the future gigantic Square Kilometer Array (SKA), handling the numerous detectors spread over kilometres, in desertic areas, for exploring the Universe; iii) the use of advanced Silicon sensors and Silicon photomultipliers technology with embedded intelligent signal and data processing for Positron Emission Tomography in Medicine, with applications also to Astrophysics and Particle Physics.

The INFIERI researchers worked with data generated from particle physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, positron emission tomography signals used in medical applications, and with cosmic rays signals from a pathfinder of the Cerenkov Telescope Array, installed at Meudon.
Among the main achievements, the teams from INFN-Pisa, FNAL (USA), Rutherford Lab, Bristol University and CERN designed and built two demonstrators able each to perform the tracks reconstruction in less than 4 microseconds from a crowdy hits environment (see picture in ‘’L1TrackFinder.pdf’’ file). This is by working with cutting-edge hardware such as new generation of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) processors with advanced firmware or application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC), types of computer chips capable of storing huge amount of predefined track solutions for reconstructing and visualising events in real time.
Teams at the University Carlos Tercero in Spain and the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Italy, developed a high-speed optical wireless communications solution that eliminates the need for cables to connect medical imaging devices in clinics, resulting in a patented technology (See Photo-MedicalOWC.pdf)
Other teams in Liverpool, Oxford and Leicester were instrumental in developing a camera for a prototype telescope of the Cerenkov Telescope Array, and in collecting and analysing images during tests over the past two years. The camera is made of a complete processing chain of the signal from the Photomultipliers and reconstruct in real time the images from energetic gamma rays from the sky (See "CTA-camera.pdf" file)

These kinds of applications, though very different in size, scale and underlying technology, require extremely rapid front-end signal and data processing, event selection, efficient transmission and high-selectivity, covering the full-chain of data treatment from raw generation of the information to analysis to extract meaningful results. The demonstrators for each of these cases have been fully built and their performances evaluated in real-life conditions.

The INFIERI researchers and engineers also conducted research into advanced data treatment software (high performance computing) (PHILIPS and THALES-TRT) and into innovative signal processing solutions based on compact 3D sub-micron technology (CNRS, LETI, Tezzaron), and developed novel systems for silicon photonics, advanced high speed and high rate data transmission solutions (NIKHEF and CERN) among other technologies (see "Advanced-Tech.pptx" file).

With a total of 11 partners and 13 associated partners, the network gathers leading academic institutes, European laboratories (NIKHEF, RAL), high-tech companies (PHILIPS, THALES) as full partners. Associated partners in Europe (CERN, several leading companies and Universities), the USA (Fermi National Lab (FNAL), Purdue University, Tezzaron Semiconductor) and Korea (Seoul National University, SAMSUNG SAIT) bring advanced and complementary scientific and technological expertise.

The network hired 23 young researchers and engineers to participate in this cross-disciplinary programme, all of whom already went or will go on to apply their knowledge in both the public and private sectors. A large number of positions were co-advised between INFIERI partners or with non-INFIERI Institutes, thus strengthening mobility of these fellows within European Institutes or firms or even far abroad.
INFIERI is part of these projects that are essential for ensuring fundamental research projects lead to real-world applications. This is especially the case in frontier areas of science.
The EU Fellows spent exciting internships in the network academia and research Labs and several at Industrial partners (PHILIPS, THALES, TEZZARON-USA, CAEN, SEDECAL), presenting important results in International events or worldwide collaborations, being co-authors of a large number of publications in international renown Journals, taking part to a large number of outreach event and initiatives. Three INFIERI fellows were awarded two for Best posters and one for best article in Worldwide Conferences.
A summer school, initially hosted by two of the project partners (Oxford and CNRS in Paris), has since expanded outside of the network at the Hamburg University in 2015 and then to Latin America; on January 2017, the Summer School was held at the University of São Paolo in Brazil, the top Campus in Latin America. Next year it is due to take place in China, at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing University.
To conclude the INFIERI network achieved all its scientific, technological as well as training and transfer of knowledge objectives and sometime even beyond. For a nice survey, listen to the Youtube that each EU fellow recorded, summarizing in a few minutes and for a large public audience her/his work.