Sustainable innovation pioneered through semiconductor sensors
In elementary particle research utilizing particle accelerators, accurate observation of where elementary particle reaction occurs is vital, and silicon semiconductor sensors have become the main sensors used for particle detection.
For many years, we have been developing and constructing sensors that can operate in the harsh conditions for experimenting with elementary particles. Recently, through utilization of SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology newly adopted for sensors, we developed the FPIX semiconductor sensor, which boasts to world’s highest position resolution (University of Tsukuba featured research: http://www.tsukuba.ac.jp/attention-research/p201706231400.html). This enables measurement to detect neutrons with a position resolution of 1 micron, which had not been possible in the past. We have also newly developed a semiconductor detector with an internal amplification function (LGAD) which was shown to be capable of 30-ps time resolution as a semiconductor element. Combining this with features of semiconductor microtechnology made it possible to realize a 4D detector that can simultaneously achieve superior time and space resolutions.
This kind of silicon semiconductor sensor technology is essential for the future of high precision particle accelerator experiments. Medical field application is also expected beyond elementary particle experiments. Through application to equipment used in PET (positron emission tomography) diagnostics, a method used in cancer screenings, high precision time resolution contributes to background reduction, so it may contribute improving the range of functionality of equipment. This research also presents the opportunity to design very large-scale integrated circuitry (VLSI) that is used in various industrial settings, contributing to society from the perspective of skilled human resource development. In this way, silicon semiconductor sensor technology developed for elementary particle experiments is an innovation that creates new industry and contributes to growth of various sensor-related technologies as well as employment promotion.
Reference: Tomonaga Center for the History of the Universe, Division for Development of Photon and Particle Detectors website:http://hep-www.px.tsukuba.ac.jp/TCHoU/LDPPD/
Associate Professor, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
Assistant Professor, KEK