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May 04, 2021

Highlights: Barcelona Techno 2021 Week One

- By Jacqueline Wheeler

Science proved a formidable ally this year, not only arming us with the weapons to subdue Covid but also providing the virtual networks through which scientific knowledge is shared and, ultimately, lives saved.

Direct Conversion has taken full advantage of the digital space, both as an exhibitor and presenter, continuing to advance its technology through discussion and debate with leading academics worldwide.

Last week, Dr York Haemisch, Director Medical and Research Markets, met online with experts in the field of solid-state radiation detection at Barcelona Techno Week 2021. His talk on Direct Conversion Photon Counting Detectors was watched by over 130 attendees.

Here, York reports back with the first of his weekly highlights from an impressive forum, at which images captured by Direct Conversion photon counting X-ray detectors drew a warm response from attendees. More highlights next week.


The week got off to a bracing start with an introduction to some fascinating new implementations of multi-layer tracker detectors in The Fundamentals of Interaction of Radiation with Matter, brought to us by Paula Collins and Francesc Salvat-Pujal.

Paula is CERN scientist who currently leads the LHCb Velo (Vertex Detector) project. She has previously worked on various aspects of the DELPHI detector.

A colleague of Paula’s at CERN, Francesc is an applied physicist, whose work includes the refinement and extension of low-energy hadron-nucleus interaction models in the general-purpose Monte Carlo simulation code FLUKA.


I had diaried Sami Vähänen’s talk on the subject of Sensors and Interconnects and Gabriel Pares’ presentation on 3D Interconnection for Tuesday and was not disappointed. Both talks added to Direct Conversion’s bank of knowledge on areas relevant to our development work in bump bonding, TSVs, interposers and stacking.

Sami is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Advacam Ltd with expertise in micro packaging of a variety of radiation sensor components with core competencies in flip chip based micro packaging and Through-Silicon Via (TSV) technologies. Gabriel Pares is from CEA Leti in Grenoble, where he is project manager at in the Laboratory of Packaging and 3D Integration, working on 2.5D/3D chip stacking, Silicon interposer, TSV integration as well as rebuilt wafer technologies and advanced packaging solutions. He holds 7 patents and he is the author of 17 publications in 3D integration and advanced packaging fields.


Frederico Faccio’s exploration of radiation induced damages and prevention/compensation technologies was of more direct relevance to particle detectors, but I booked in because there is interest for us in connection with high energy applications of our detectors.

Frederico’s extensive experience includes his role in the introduction of Hardness-By-Design (HBD) techniques for ASIC Design in High Energy Physics. He is also leader of the Microelectronics section at CERN. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 technical papers in journals and conference proceedings, receiving awards at the NSREC (Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects), RADECS (Radiation Effects on Components and Systems) and ECCE (Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition) conferences.

In the afternoon, I was delighted by the reception of my talk on Direct Conversion Photon Counting Detectors. I presented a compelling video of a breast image captured using the Direct Conversion photon counting X-ray detector-based AB-CT scanner (courtesy of Dr Karsten Ridder). A large audience were clearly impressed, and I enjoyed responding to questions on an application that is making a difference to women’s lives.

Further questions centred on alternative materials to CdTe, which is used in our detectors and Direct Conversion’s future Pyxis platform.

The ease of working on Zoom made connectivity between participants effortless and I am promised further questions by email and chat over the coming weeks.

My day ended with Paul O’Connor on Pulse Processing and Pulse Shaping, both of which are relevant for the analog part of our ASICs.

Paul is a senior scientist and group leader in the Instrumentation Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory. His research interests involve low-noise signal processing systems for particle and astrophysics, photon science, medical imaging, and nuclear nonproliferation. He is a Member of the American Physical Society and Life Senior Member of the IEEE. He holds the Distinguished R&D and Outstanding Mentor awards from BNL, the Medal for Research Achievement from the Australian CSIRO, and the Howard Wheeler Award from the IEEE. Paul is author of about 150 publications and has 7 patents for microelectronic and detector technologies.

Keynote speakers:

R. Ballabriga Sune – organizer of Barcelona Techno Week and chief designer of hybrid detectors at CERN

M. Campbell – leader of the Medipix consortium for 20 years and ASIC designer at CERN

K. Taguchi – formerly CT developer at Toshiba, now at John’s Hopkins and one of the strongest proponents of PC-CT