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The FASTER consortium for new, precise picosecond detectors and algorithms for particle detectors was awarded an NWO ENW-XL grant of 3.1 million euros. Main applicant of the consortium is UvA physicist Hella Snoek; among the 9 co-applicants from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht, Nijmegen and Groningen is also UvA physicist Jory Sonneveld. The consortium will develop new detector technologies and computer algorithms that use extremely precise timing information at the picosecond level.

The FASTER project focuses on so-called superfast 4D reconstructions (space and time) of particle tracks in detectors at CERN in Geneva. In the near future the LHC accelerator there will become up to 50 times more intense, the so-called high luminosity LHC. With this high intensity, many rare particle processes can be better studied, possibly showing the limits of current particle theory.

The deluge of particle collisions in the HL-LHC cannot be handled with the current spatial pixel sensors in the detectors, because they will be too slow and not spatially precise enough. The consortium led by UvA/Nikhef researcher Hella Snoek will work on new chip designs and electronics, and on new time-based algorithms for reading out the detector and quickly processing the raw signals into particle tracks.

Another special feature of the project is the involvement of a group in Maastricht working on medical imaging. They believe that the FASTER technologies can be used for ultra-fast diagnosis of tissues, for example in cancer surgery.