Modern experiments in nuclear, particle and astroparticle physics depend on specialized and complex detector systems. Development and testing of such unique instrumentation, essential for breakthrough research, requires expertise from a broad range of topics in physics, electronics and computing.
Research institutions able to make significant contributions in this field have a high reputation in the scientific community and increased odds to engage in related large collaborative projects. Participation in such activities requires a significant investment in infrastructure, but often leads to emergent technological progress and potential for technology transfer, positively impacting the local economy.
RBI researchers collaborate with top European research centers, and have an excellent knowledge of the experimental techniques involved. However, RBI as an institution insufficiently contributes to instrumentation development, and, more importantly lacks outstanding researchers and research managers who can significantly improve the excellence of its research and innovation landscape.
The ERA Chair project is ideally suited to address these weaknesses. It will provide funding for the required top staff to consolidate all available resources into the new Center for Detectors, Sensors & Electronics - CDSE, an independent RBI unit which will strictly implement all conditions to foster state of the art research. The ERA Chair as the CDSE head will be involved in the RBI management structure and will be an integral component of ongoing structural changes at RBI, based on the best practices of the top EU research centers and ERA priorities. The ERA Chair is expected to also impact the broader research community and national economy, and will be closely involved in the execution of the Croatian Smart Specialisation Strategy.
More concretely, the specific objectives of the proposed project are:
To acquire top class researchers for the planned Centre for Detectors, Sensors and Electronics (CDSE), a newly formed independent RBI organizational unit which will be the focal point of all activities related to the development, testing and construction of detectors, sensors, and electronics. The focus will concern the activities of the nuclear, particle, and astroparticle groups and related, often interdisciplinary, researchers.
The ERA Chair and her/his team will thus be outstanding researchers with excellent research records in experimental nuclear, particle, or astroparticle physics, particularly concerning detector, sensor, and electronics development. Furthermore, the ERA Chair will need to have management experience at a top research institution.
To enhance the experimental role of RBI in the existing large international collaborative projects in nuclear, particle and astroparticle physics research. A priority will also be to enable related involvement in new collaborations. This will be achieved by significantly increased capabilities and capacities of RBI researchers for the development, testing and construction of detectors, sensors and electronics, with CDSE being the central point. Besides their own research work, the hired CDSE staff will transfer their knowledge and experience through practical trainings, workshops and schools, and assistance in activities, to the other RBI researchers.
To enhance capacities of RBI for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary applications and technology transfer related to the development, testing and construction of detectors, sensors, electronics and related instrumentation. Knowledge and experience related to techniques and methods in nuclear, particle and astroparticle physics can be applied in physics, chemistry, biology and many other fields. Such interdisciplinary studies are performed at RBI and other Croatian research institutions, like Universities of Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, and Osijek, the Institute for Physics, the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health. CDSE will thus impact research excellence at the national level.
Further, these methods and techniques are of importance for technical sciences and various related technologies. It is thus realistic to expect a positive impact of CDSE on the Croatian technology and economy as is the case for similar European facilities at GSI, GANIL or INFN-LNL. In fact, an important goal of this project will be to interact with the relevant industry to aid in the possible knowledge transfer of the acquired know-how. The hired staff of CDSE and the RBI staff will also transfer knowledge and experience through practical trainings, workshops and schools, and possibly assistance in some activities of high priority for RBI and for the national smart specialization strategy, to other users from the broader scientific community and industry.
To contribute to the realization of the Croatian smart specialisation strategies, as well as take a leading role in institutional changes to implement ERA priorities. It is planned for the ERA chair to take a leading role in the implementation of the components of the 60 million Euro project “Open scientific infrastructural platforms for innovative applications in economy and society” (O-ZIP), designed accordingly to the current national Smart Specialization Strategy. The focus will in particular be on the Advanced technologies and materials platform of O-ZIP.
Further, the ERA Chair will take a leading role in the relevant components of the 10 million Euro worth “Cross-sector competence centre for advanced technologies” – applications of KET technologies. Such competence centres are an integral component of the Croatian Smart Specialization Strategy, and RBI through it has a direct link with all the main stakeholders in the Croatian industry.
A key component of O-ZIP, as well as a strategic orientation of RBI in general, is a series of structural changes necessary to improve its research and innovation excellence and to increase its capability to compete successfully for internationally competitive research funding. These structural changes follow the best practices of the top European research institutions and enable full implementation of the European Research Area priorities.