IFAE 2019 Annual report

Scientific & Institutional activities


Scientific Highlights

of 2019

Gamma Ray group result

Detection of TeV photons from GRB190114C by the MAGIC Telescopes

On January 14th, 2019, a GRB was discovered by two space satellites. The event was named GRB 190114C, and within 22 seconds its coordinates in the sky were distributed as an electronic alert to astronomers worldwide, including the MAGIC Collaboration, that was able to start its observation just 50 seconds after it began. The analysis of the resulting data for the first tens of seconds revealed emission of photons in the afterglow reaching TeV energies. During this time, the observed flux of TeV photons from GRB 190114C was two orders of magnitude more intense than that of the brightest known steady source at TeV energies, the Crab Nebula. The detection of TeV photons from GRB190114c by the MAGIC Telescopes has provided the first proof of the long-sought inverse compton component in the spectra of GRBs, the most powerful phenomena in the Universe, and resulted in the publication of two Nature papers, co-lead by an IFAE researcher.

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Quantum Computing Technologies Group result

The QCT group achieves coherent control of the first Superconducting Qubit

The Rabi oscillations represent the evolution of the dynamics of a quantum mechanical two-level system that is subjected to an external field with a frequency close or at resonance with the energy difference between the two levels. The observation of the Rabi oscillations in an actual quantum system in the lab demonstrates the ability to control the quantum state of that particular system, and is thus the first step into implementing quantum information protocols. For the first time in Spain, the QCT group has demonstrated in 2019 the observation of Rabi oscillations in a superconducting circuit that exhibits a discrete energy level spectrum in the microwave domain of frequencies. With this demonstration, the QCT group is currently implementing the first novel quantum algorithms developed by the Quantum Information group at the University of Barcelona.

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Instrumentation milestone

The DESI Instrument sees first light

During early 2019, the IFAE group finished the delivery of all the Guiding, Focusing and Alignment (GFA) cameras to DESI, complete with mechanical enclosures, filters, CCDs, readout electronics, thermal control, etc. Ten of them were then mounted in the focal plane of the DESI instrument. The commissioning of the instrument started in late summer 2019, with first light observed on October 22, 2019.

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Instrumentation milestone

IFAE contributes to the ATLAS hadronic calorimeter upgrade

During 2019, members of the IFAE-ATLAS group and the IFAE Technical Division made significant contributions to the upgrade of the Tile Calorimeter (TileCal), a key element of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Mechanical structures designed and produced at IFAE are used to hold new scintillator detectors, which are now installed in the detector in preparation for the start of LHC Run 3 in 2021. In addition, the IFAE mechanical workshop successfully produced twelve mini-drawers that will hold the new readout electronics, as a pre-production towards the TileCal upgrade for the high-luminosity LHC phase, to start in 2027.

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Applied physics group milestone

The i-Vision project awarded a “la Caixa” Health Research Grant

In 2019 the project Adaptive Retinal Implant Technology for Vision Restoration (i-VISION) was awarded a “la Caixa” Health Research Grant with 1 million euros. ICN2, IFAE, ICFO, Barraquer Foundation and Institut de la Vision (University of Sorbonne) are the partner institutions forming the i-VISION research consortium. This three-year project will design the next generation of retinal prostheses using graphene-based electrodes to provide artificial vision to patients blinded by retinal degeneration.

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Neutrinos group milestone

ProtoDUNE-DP commissioning and first tracks

During summer 2019, the protoDUNE-DP detector started the final installation steps and commissioning at CERN. The detector was successfully commissioned and the first track could be observed. The Spanish groups, IFAE together with CIEMAT, provided the photon detection system based on 36 PMTs.

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Applied physics result

Pixel sensors for neuromonitoring

The pixel group has been exploring the usage of silicon detectors beyond high energy physics. One interesting application of the HV-CMOS technology is for neuromonitoring. This medical technique consists of using a laser to shine infra-red light in the brain, and obtain information about blood flow through the scattered photons. The IFAE pixel group, after obtaining a BIST Ignite grant with ICFO, developed several single photon avalanche detectors that are at the core of this neuromonitoring technique. The success of the effort is reflected in the fact that in early 2020 the project obtained further support through the BIST Ignite Award.

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Instrumentation milestone

New instrumented baffle for Virgo designed at IFAE

IFAE initiates the production of the new-instrumented baffle for Virgo after concluding its design and passing successfully Virgo’s production readiness review in 2019. The stainless steel mirror-polished baffle with anti-reflecting coating will be instrumented with 76 photo-sensors mounted in two large PCBs. The device will be installed under ultra-high vacuum conditions in 2020 at EGO.

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Instrumentation milestone

The LST-1 Detects its First Gamma-Ray Signal

The LST-1 successfully detected its first gamma-ray signal on 23 November 2019 when it pointed to the Crab Nebula. The camera could record gamma ray events from the Crab Nebula and detect it with high significance in a very short time immediately after pointing in its direction, a real highlight in the progress of the LST1 commissioning

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PIC milestone

Deployment of a new IBM TS4500 tape library

The long-term preservation of large volumes of experimental data is a flagship service at PIC, and the new tape library will play an important role for it in the years to come. With steadily increasing information density and throughput, tape technology is a key component of the data management for the LHC in addressing the need of cost-effective deep archives.

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Cosmology result

The first PAU scientific results

During 2019 PAUS continued obtaining data, with PAUCam running very smoothly. The first scientific results were published in journals, and show that the main design goal of PAUS, the measurement of redshifts with a precision of 3.5 (1+z) % up to magnitude of 22.5 can be reached.

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Scientific Output in 2019

Publications summary


Number of indexed journal articles

95.2 %

Articles in first Quartile Journals


Average Journal Impact Factor (IF)

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