One list to find them all
Barbara Warmbein (DESY), 13/04/2017

The front page of the irradiation facilities database website (Image: CERN)


A new database of irradiation facilities at CERN, in Europe and around the world has been published online as part of the work of AIDA-2020 Work Package 15 and is currently undergoing validation. With a total of 182 entries (as of March 2017) it is the largest and likely most unique database of this kind in the world.

“With every validated entry the database gathers more momentum and we are confident that we’ll have a largely validated and comprehensive list in the next months,” says Federico Ravotti, irradiation database activity leader within WP15.

Detector and accelerator developers need irradiation facilities to test their components under conditions that are as close as possible to real applications as well as to predict and prevent failures in materials. For future accelerator projects like the high-luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) or the Future Circular Collider (FCC) much higher radiation levels are expected, so irradiation experiments are even more fundamental for a safe development of systems and equipment.

Irradiation facilities can simulate long-term effects and operational conditions normally occurring over a period of several years within a few days or even hours.

The Irradiation Facilities Database can therefore help potential users to find the most appropriate irradiation facility for their equipment testing. Although the database was originally developed for the particle detectors and accelerators community, it also includes facilities that offer services for space, medical, energy fields among many others.

The database has a high level of detail, featuring a map for a quick overview and several filters allowing a search by country, source type or radiation type. For example, if you are in the UK and looking for a place to irradiate your sample with gamma rays from a Cobalt-60 source, you can very quickly find four entries. 

Moreover, each database entry shows an exhaustive list of useful information that can ease the choice of the correct facility, such as the minimum and maximum dose/fluence, irradiation conditions, safety rules and the facility’s homepage. In addition, all the contact details for each facility are included, such as the name of the contact person, their e-mail and phone number,  as well as whether any special funding programmes offer support, such as the AIDA-2020 Transnational Access.

As every database developer knows, setting it up is a challenge, but keeping the content up to date is even more complicated. The system will send reminders to facility coordinators once a year to validate the information about their facility. For the moment, the facility coordinators have approved 42 of the 182 entries and the validation period is still ongoing.

“It’s a collaborative database,” summarises Blerina Gkotse and Georgi Gorine, the two PhD students who set up the database under the supervision of Federico Ravotti at CERN.

“Every facility coordinator maintains their own entry, ensuring long-term data accuracy and completeness.” 

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