University of New Mexico Department of Physics and Astronomy Graduate student Josef Sorenson was selected recently to receive the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award to pursue his Ph.D. next year at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) with his proposal “Co-design of sensors and electronics for 4D trackers,” which involves experiments involving the readout electronics on sensors for the ATLAS experiment, which measures high energy proton collisions.

Joey Sorenson
Josef Sorenson

Sorenson started researching with the ATLAS group at UNM in Fall 2021. The ATLAS experiment measures high-energy proton collisions to probe the smallest components of matter. At UNM, Sorenson studies silicon sensors which are used to measure the collision products. At LBNL, Sorenson will work on the readout electronics for these silicon sensors. Both the silicon sensors and the readout electronics need to maintain an excellent timing resolution after exposure to high levels of radiation. The goal of Sorenson’s study is to determine what levels of radiation the readout electronics will survive.

Sorenson is using ATLAS data to search for physics processes beyond the Standard Model and developing new detectors for particle tracking. Analyzing the recorded particle collision events resulting from the LHC requires complex data-acquisition and computing systems.

ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors in the LHC. Weighing in at 7,000 tons, ATLAS detector is the largest volume particle detector ever constructed. The European Council for Nuclear Research houses ATLAS in an underground cavern near the small village of Meyrin, Switzerland. More than 5,500 scientists from 245 institutes in 42 countries work on the ATLAS experiment.

Last year, Sorenson also won the U.S. Department of Energy and the Istituto Nazionale de Fisica Nucleare (DOE-INFN) Summer Students Exchange Scholarship. He traveled to Genoa, Italy, last fall to work with INFN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ATLAS group. He was involved in the assembly and testing of 3D modules, developing a system test for module electrical qualification on a support structure, and optimizing the mechanical and thermal qualification of the support structure.

The SCGSR recognizes outstanding academic accomplishments, including the merit of Sorenson’s research proposal, which reflects his potential to make important contributions to the mission of the DOE Office of Science. The SCGSR program provides supplemental awards to outstanding U.S. graduate students to pursue part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory/facility in areas that address scientific challenges central to the Office of Science mission.

The research opportunity is expected to advance the graduate students' overall doctoral thesis while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories/facilities. The award amount is a monthly stipend up to $3,000 for living expenses and an additional $2,000 for travel.

For more information, visit the DOE’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program.