Fully Booked
Cosmic rays' detection: astrophysics at your fingertips

The Project

The participants will have the opportunity to build a muon detector using plastic scintillators and silicon photomultipliers. The students will go through the basics of particle detection and will have the chance to understand what the role of each component in the detector is. They will figure out how we can catch the particles we want to observe and reject those we want to avoid. They will learn about light detection, properties of materials, and readout electronics working hand by hand with IFAE researchers.

Only when we understand how the detector work in detail we can then go out and ask nature about the behavior of cosmic rays. Only then we can think of other applications. Building and understanding detectors are crucial to making experiments with them. And to trigger your imagination.

The detector we are going to build is meant to be portable so that it can be taken outside and see what it can tell us about everyday life. The students will also design and perform experiments to understand the behavior of muons and cosmic rays in the atmosphere.

Come and build your own muon detector and learn how particles interact with matter, how they are created and destroyed in the atmosphere, what is a particle shower, and how particle detectors work. Be an experimental physicist: design your setup, answer your questions, ask new ones.

Matching profiles

Students interested in particle physics or astrophysics. Students willing to spend time in the lab doing experimental work with a clear goal but not a unique path to achieve it. It would be nice to have a working group with a wide range of skills & interests: some with computing skills, some with experimental & electronic interests, some more inclined to theory. Knowing how to work in a group is a must.

Learning objectives
  • Understand the process of building a detector;
  • Understand the uses and knowledge behind the cosmic rays;
  • Discover the mysteries that an astrophysicist is trying to solve about cosmic rays;
  • Determine the principles of particle detection and their use to detect them.
Required materials

A laptop would help but it is not required.

Coordinators of the project
Óscar Blanch

Óscar Blanch

  • Researcher in the Gamma Rays group at IFAE.
  • Spokesperson of the  MAGIC collaboration.
  • On charge for the construction of the cameras for the largest telescopes of Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the coming new observatory for very-high-energy gamma rays.
  • Extensive experience bringing high energy astrophysics to the general public and to make available to young people his knowledge in technology and physics in informative talks.

Manuel Artero

  • BSc in Interdisciplinary Sciences at ETH Zürich (Focus in Chemistry & Biophysics)
  • MSc in Interdisciplinary Sciences at ETH Zürich (Focus in Astrophysics & High Energy Physics)
  • PhD Candidate in the Gamma-Ray Group at IFAE (Autonomous University of Barcelona) 
  • Pursuing a thesis project within the broader framework of multi-messenger astronomy.
  • Amongst my favourite activities are to go for a hike in nature and extensive cooking sessions.

Daniel Kerszberg

  • License in Physics at University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris in 2012
  • Master in "Science in Fundamental Physics and Applications" at University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris in 2014
  • PhD in "High Energy Physics" at University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris in 2017
  • Post-doctorate at Instituto de Fisica de Altas Energias (IFAE) in Barcelona since 2018, working with gamma-ray telescopes on the search for dark matter and Lorentz invariance violation
The center

The Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE) has two main divisions, experimental and theory, which develop frontier research in Fundamental Physics, and a third division developing Applied Physics.