CORDIS - EU research results

Monolithic Multi-Junction Picosecond Avalanche Detector for future physics experiments and applications

Project description

Novel silicon pixel detectors with picosecond time resolution

Silicon detectors are widely used in experiments in particle physics. The EU-funded MONOLITH project plans to design a novel silicon pixel sensor that can detect particles on the picosecond time scale with high spatial resolution. The new sensor will combine simplified assembly processes and reduced production costs offered by standard CMOS processes. The innovative technology will be a groundbreaking instrument for future nuclear and particle physics experiments as well as space-borne physics experiments. It could also have an impact on several other fields such as high-precision Lidar systems, time-of-flight PET scanners and biological imaging.


Particle-physics, space research and several other fields of basic and applied science necessitate the production of thin sensors capable to provide excellent position and time resolution at the same time.
The diode structure of present silicon pixel sensors strongly penalises the enormous potential of silicon-based time measurement: the ~30 ps intrinsic limit of diodes was already reached in sensors with internal gain with pad sizes of 1 mm2. Therefore, new ideas are needed to improve by another order of magnitude and reach the picosecond level.
This project introduces a novel silicon-sensor structure devised to overcome the intrinsic limits of present sensors and simultaneously provide picosecond timing and high spatial resolution in a monolithic implementation. This goal is achieved by the introduction of a fully depleted multi-junction. The remarkable performance of this new sensor, combined with the simplified assembly process and reduced production cost offered by the monolithic implementation in standard CMOS processes, represent the required breakthrough.
In addition to the novel multi-junction sensor, the cornerstones of the project are the low-noise very-fast SiGe HBT frontend and the patented TDC with robust synchronisation method that the PI has already produced in preliminary versions.
The monolithic detector proposed here will offer a sustainable solution for the next generation of experiments at hadron colliders, in nuclear physics and for space-borne experiments in cosmic-ray physics and solar physics. Besides the primary goal of basic science, it will represent an extraordinary enabling technology for the large spectrum of high-tech applications that benefits of picosecond-level Time-Of-Flight measurements. The innovative monolithic detector introduced here will also offer a starting point for further progress in the field of light detection.
European industrial partners have been contacted for commercial exploitation of the detector.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 500 000,00
1211 Geneve

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Région lémanique Genève
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 500 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)