Imaging Detectors

570 Mpixel Dark Energy Survey camera
Silicon wafer containing CCDs used in DECam.


Imaging detectors such as charge-coupled devices (CCDs) are primarily used for astronomical observation and x-ray imaging. Our CCDs are noted for their exceptionally high, near-infrared sensitivity and capability to capture images billions of light years away. The Berkeley Lab MicroSystems Laboratory produces scientific CCDs for imaging and spectroscopic applications in astronomy as well as for the direct detection of x-rays at the Advanced Light Source.

Video: Making Sci-Fi a Reality (Electron Microscopy Imaging)

Precision Mechanisms


Precision mechanisms are a class of machinery/instrumentation that often have micron scale features, or even larger components that have can range down to nanometer scale tolerances within surface, positioning, or motion. These systems have applications ranging from satellite technologies and particle accelerators to MEMS, and nanotechnology instrumentation. Our efforts include research, design, development, manufacturing and measurement of high accuracy components and systems. Some examples are X-Ray optics and metrology, X-Ray and electron microscopes, precision microscopes and large accelerator detectors. These systems are often cryogenic and installed in ultra high vacuum environments.

Advanced Manufacturing


An Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) at Berkeley Lab is being explored to establish various advanced manufacturing technologies and serve a wide range of manufacturing needs internally as well as externally. We are developing capable manufacturing technology to meet increasing diversification of material used and tighter tolerances in science exploration and industrial production. AMC will initially focus on ultra-precision machining technology, which could provide an array of material selections, tens of nanometer form accuracy, and few nanometer surface quality with a full 3-D feature capability.

Project Planning & Controls

Recipients of the 2012 Department of Energy (DOE) Project Management Awards includes Engineering Project Planning and Controls Group Leader. The Bevatron Demolition Project received the Secretary’s Award for Excellence and the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Detector Project received the Secretary’s Achievement Award.


The Project Planning and Controls Group provides project management expertise in project planning, project estimating, and project execution. The group administers and maintains the enterprise software that is utilized in support of LBNL’s EVMS and has experts in the use of Primavera, Microsoft Project, and COBRA. Currently, all group members are certified Project Management Professionals (PMP) through the Project Management Institute.

Interlock Systems & Protection

Interlock Systems & Protection Screen


In most applications, an interlock system is used to prevent to harm to persons or damage to machines. Physical controls are engineered to contain hazardous energy, an interlock sensor detects potentially dangerous changes in state, and the interlock reduces risk of injury or damage.  Interlocks sensors can be radiation detectors, infrared beams, cameras that monitor 3D space, but often they are switches. At the Berkeley Lab, interlocks are used in robotic, hydraulic, high voltage, laser, radio frequency and radiological systems.

High Power RF Engineering


High Power Radio Frequency (RF) Engineering is a specialized field of electrical engineering that deals with components and systems that operate at well above the audio frequencies band. Historically, RF Engineering began over 100 years ago with the advent of wireless telegraphy known today as radio. High Power RF Engineering has grown enormously and is now used in all forms of communication systems utilizing transmitters, receivers and antennas, in industrial processing such heating, curing and sterilization, in many forms of imaging such as medical, geological and materials as well as in computer engineering due to their ever increasing computing speeds. At the Berkeley Lab, we primarily use High Power RF Engineering to detect and measure the presence and position of atomic particles, to design mechanical structures to facilitate the transport of atomic particles, to design accelerating structures with large electric fields used to accelerate particles, and to design and operate kilo-watt to multi-mega-watt RF amplifiers used to provide power to these accelerating structures. 

Feedback Controls


In feedback controls, the controlled output of a device is measured and fed back for use in a control computation. We utilize feedback controls in a variety of applications ranging from LLRF to synchronization of optical pulses with femtosecond accuracy over kilometers of fiber, and beam-based feedback applied to Linac-driven Free Electron Lasers (FELs). We have particular expertise in the use of feedback controls for particle accelerators, which is essential to modulate various physical quantities in the presence of external disturbances such as variations in temperature, pressure, variability of electronic components, mechanical couplings, etc. The orbit of particles in an accelerator and other parameters influencing performance of the beam are also controlled using feedback.

Engineering Analysis (FEA)


Computational engineering analysis enables us to predict structural, thermal, electromagnetic and fluid behavior in complex designs. We develop computer models using finite element analysis (FEA) programs during our design process to ensure that the hardware we build will perform effectively and safely. We commonly apply structural FEA programs to ensure components have adequate strength and stiffness, electromagnetic FEA programs for magnet and high voltage design, thermal FEA for accurate estimates of thermal responses under different heating and temperature conditions, and fluid dynamics FEA programs to evaluate coolant flow. With modern-day FEA programs and desktop computers, we are able to develop highly detailed and complex models to capture design subtleties, evaluate a large number of “what-if” scenarios for optimizing and developing robust designs, and include the often complex interactions of multiple disciplines into one model (for example, thermal-structural, electromagnetic-structural, and fluid-thermal-structural). Custom integration of commercial FEA programs with other computer programs are developed as needed.

Although FEA can be very accurate in predicting performance, we always consider validation and verification of FEA models using prototypes or real-world measurements. Validation and verification provides the necessary feedback for ensuring a high-fidelity model.