The European Spallation Source (ESS) is one of the largest science and technology infrastructure projects being built in Europe today. The facility design and construction includes the most powerful linear proton accelerator ever built. The high energy proton beam from the linear accelerator strikes a tungsten target wheel releasing neutrons for use in materials and life science research.
IOxOS Technologies, in partnership with the Paul Scherrer Institute, has used its expertise and proven experience in the development of distributed real-time control systems for high energy physics to provide a long-lasting modular hardware platform for the ESS accelerator control system.
Development and integration collaboration
The synchronization and day-to-day running of all the equipment responsible for the production of neutrons at the ESS is under the responsibility of the Integrated Control System (ICS) division.
In 2016, ICS started a collaboration with IOxOS Technologies and the Paul Scherrer Institute for the development and integration of a new electronic platform for the ESS Control System. The resulting electronic platform targets several applications at the ESS Control System, including RF control systems, beam position monitors and several safety interlock systems.
A complete control ecosystem
IOxOS Technologies developed a complete ecosystem to fulfill ESS control system requirements. The form factor selected for the ESS was the MicroTCA.4, an enhancement of the MicroTCA open standard targeting demanding applications in large-scale research facilities.
One of the strengths of this ecosystem is that most of the core components have already been qualified and deployed in similar control applications in research institutes such as the Institute Laue-Langevin (France), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK), the ALBA Synchrotron (Spain) and the Paul Scherrer Institute.
IOxOS Technologies developed a product line of MicroTCA.4 modules with key components selected in order to minimize the risk of obsolescence and ensure long-term availability. The use of FPGAs within the hardware guarantees a high degree of customization, reuse and performance, while providing a significant protection against obsolescence. A comprehensive family of modules implementing the high speed analogue-to-digital and digital-to-analogue functions needed for data acquisition was also developed.
The product lines are designed to have fast integration within EPICS (Experimental Physics and Industrial Control Systems) the software environment used to operate the control system at the ESS. Through the support of the Paul Scherrer Institute, a growing range of open source software tools, libraries and applications is available to support the physics community in the development of efficient distributed real-time platforms for precision instrumentation and state-of-the-art accelerator control systems.
The collaboration with the ESS and the Paul Scherrer Institute has made possible the development of a complete MicroTCA ecosystem that perfectly complements both the business strategy and the existing range of products of IOxOS Technologies.
It has allowed IOxOS Technologies to consolidate its position as a reliable solution provider to high energy physics laboratories, and enabled the company to pursue new opportunities to implement control solutions for other research facilities.