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Developing next generation fast-timing photon-detectors

   Department of Physics

  Dr Tom Blake  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisors: Dr. Tom Blake (University of Warwick), Dr. Michal Kreps (University of Warwick) and Dr. James Milnes (Photek Ltd).

The Time Of internally Reflected CHerenkov light detector (TORCH) is a proposed large-area time-of-flight detector, currently considered as part of the phase II upgrade programme of the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. The TORCH is designed to separate between different charged hadrons by exploiting the time-of-flight of the particles across the LHCb experiment. The prompt emission of Cherenkov radiation by charged particles passing through a quartz bar is used to time the particle. Cherenkov photons are propagated to the periphery of the proposed detector, where they are detected by an array of fast-timing photon-detectors. To reach the desired precision on the time-of-flight, it is necessary to time individual photons to 70 picosecond precision. The desired timing precision, detector granularity and particle fluxes are a challenge for existing photon detector devices.

The project will involve:

· the design, development and characterisation of a new generation of microchannel-plate photomultiplier photon detectors;

· the characterisation of prototypes of the TORCH detector in charged-particle beams at CERN.

The research will be carried out in the elementary particle physics (EPP) group of the physics department at the University of Warwick in collaboration with an industrial partner, Photek Ltd. More detail on the research being carried out in the EPP group can be found on the department’s web pages (https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physics/research/epp/). Photek are a leading UK manufacturer of vacuum photon detector devices whose products support a variety of scientific applications. More detail on Photek’s products and ongoing research collaborations can be found on the company’s web pages (https://www.photek.com). The student will be based at Photek, in Hastings, during the second year of the project. This placement will offer the student an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the manufacture of microchannel-plate photon-detectors.

Applicants must have (or be about to obtain) a UK equivalent of a first or upper-second class degree in Physics and a master’s degree, either through an integrated undergraduate course or a masters by research. The studentship will start in October 2022.

For further details please contact Dr. Tom Blake () and Dr. Michal Kreps ().


The studentship is funded by a STFC CASE industrial scheme. Funding is available for a UK Ph. D. student, which covers the costs of tuition fees and a maintenance allowance. The studentship will also support travel needed for the project, including to CERN.

Details on the maintenance allowance can be found at (https://www.ukri.org/councils/stfc/career-and-skills-development/training/payments-to-students).

Funding Notes

Fully funded 42 month studentship

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