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Design of an on-field adaptable pulse-processing unit for semicondutor radiation detectors

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Semiconductor devices can be exploited as radiation detectors in a variety of applications with their combined use with spectrometry systems, of which the analogue pulse-processing unit is a fundamental component.

A general implementation of the pulse-processing unit for semiconductor radiation detectors consists in the series of a charge-sensitive preamplifier and a shaping amplifier. Basic implementations allow to obtain good energy resolution and counting rates of the spectrometer when applied to a conventional low-leakage detector. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of a basic implementations become apparent when this is used in combination with a non-ideal detector.

To observe charge deposition events given by cosmic particles and radioactive sources in un-conventional detectors (power devices), a more complex topology of the pulse-processing unit may be needed.

Short Description

The higher noise that affects power devices, compared to conventional radiation detectors, is detrimental for their use as radiation detectors. Low to medium ionization interaction may not be observable due the noise affecting the device and the spectrometer. Among other solutions to improve the performance of the spectrometer, an advanced topology of the pulse-processing unit may be useful. Furthermore, as the spectrometer may be used in combination with different devices, the designed system should be easily adaptable to different use cases.

For different noise characteristics of the detector it exists a shaping-time that allows the minimization of the acquired noise. The designed solution must implement a method to allow the on-field tuning of the shaping-time so that the parameter can be set to the specific use.

Further noise minimization techniques must be investigated and implemented.


The existing pulse-processing unit must be re-designed and implemented for a suitable use with un-conventional radiation detectors.

• Get acquainted with the electronics for spectrometry
• Get acquainted with the existing spectrometer
• Review literature and investigate possible solutions
• Re-design the pre-amplifier stage (with simulations)
• Re-design the shaping-amplifier unit (with simulations)
• Implement and test the new solution (prototype board and eventual PCB)
• On field test use for cosmic radiation detection


• None

Status: Available

• Looking for interested students.
• Contact: Dr. Mauro Ciappa Marco Pocaterra
• -> ETHZ IIS H.78


Dr. Mauro Ciappa
Marco Pocaterra


Mathieu Luisier

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