94th ISCC Meeting

21st June 2022

Minutes of the 94th Meeting of the ISOLDE Collaboration Committee

held on June 21st  2022


Present: J. Cederkall (via Zoom),S. Freeman, H. Fynbo, L. Gaffney (via Zoom), G. Georgiev, A. Herzan (replacing M. Venhart), K. Johnston, C. Mihai, E. Nacher (via Zoom), D. Naidoo (via Zoom), A. Nannini, G. Neyens (via Zoom), J. Pakarinen, M. Pfützner, L. Schweikhard (via Zoom), N. Severijns (via Zoom), E. Siesling, J. Vollaire

Excused: G. Rainovski, J.A. Rodriguez

Absent: S. Gilardoni, A. Lagoyannis, S. Siem

Invited: M. Kowalska, I. Martel Bravo (via Zoom) (P.T.), S. Rothe (P.T.)

The meeting, held in person and via Zoom, starts at 09:15 h

1. Introductory remarks

G. Neyens opens the meeting and conveys apologies from J.A Rodriguez and G. Rainovski for their absence. A. Herzan, who replaces M. Venhart at this meeting, is welcomed.

2. Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting of February 4th, 2022

The minutes from the previous meeting are approved.

3. The Beam Switching Project – S. Rothe

The actions currently required to switch between HRS and GPS beams are briefly summarised and S. Rothe explains that the aim of the beam switching project is to minimise the impact of the bottleneck created where the GPS and HRS merge into the central beamline. The proposed alternating mode operation requires proof of concept and the construction of a prototype, which are being funded by the ISOLDE Collaboration (100kCHF). The committee is told that a feasibility study identified requirements, performed simulations and matched required components with those available on the open market. It also produced a circuit design for the prototype and allowed assembly of a compact and robust switching unit.

Offline tests have taken place to compare the use of electromechanical relays to solid-state switches. Results of these tests are briefly presented. The committee is told that while both technologies fulfilled the initial requirements, the solid-state switch had a better performance. The commercial solid-state device was 5 times faster than the electromechanical relay and has a longer lifetime however, it is more expensive and has about a 6-month delivery delay.

S. Rothe explains that a project board meeting is to be organised in order to decide which switching technology should be used, after which the functional specification will be finalised. The committee expresses its preference for the purchase of the commercially available solid-state switches because of noise generated by mechanical relays.

4. Status of ISOLDE – J. Vollaire

The committee is informed that commissioning and operation of low-energy beamlines has taken place without any major problems with physics being able to start at the end of March. J. Vollaire briefly summarises the targets used so far for low-energy operation. The demanding physics program has required target diversity and RILIS laser schemes are again under high demand. Several previously irradiated targets have been used as well as two PI-LIST and two quartz line “non-standard” targets. With the retirement of E. Barbero fast approaching, knowledge transfer, in particular regarding the production of these non-standard targets, has been assured. The first high resolution in-source spectroscopy experiment using PI-LIST at ISOLDE, IS664 (Investigation of octupole deformation in neutron-rich actinium using high-resolution in-source laser spectroscopy), took place successfully in May; excellent synergies between RILIS, CRIS and the LISA network led to the joint development of the high-resolution versatile laser systems used.

J. Vollaire tells the committee that the recommissioning of the REX-HIE ISOLDE linac has been difficult with three compressor station cuts that required reconditioning and, at the end of May, the 7GP1 spiral resonator, that has been in operation for about 20 years, was found to be unstable. After extensive investigation, including the installation of a seismic sensor, it is thought that the problem is caused by external vibrations; strong vibrations were felt in the tunnel at the end of May. At present, there is a low level of external vibration so operation is possible using 7GP1 and focus is now on beam commissioning. However, these technical issues have meant that commissioning time has been lost and that there is no contingency left in the schedule if experiments are to start on time. E. Siesling explains that the fact that these technical issues at REX-ISOLDE could have reduced HIE-ISOLDE running to just one month this year has once again triggered CERN management to discuss the possibility of running the cryoplant over the end of year shutdown period. Discussions have also been started about the requirement to replace the aging REX linac. D. Valouch is thanked for the critical assistance given after the three cryoplant stops.

The status of the new nano-laboratory is presented with a fully enclosed process now in place. The committee is informed that a more detailed study of the FLEXI concept, including costing, within the ISOLDE Beam Dump Replacement Study is now ongoing and an in-depth dismantling study has been launched with an external consultant. It is clarified that access to the HRS is included in the FLEXI concept but if the BASIC concept is chosen a separate funding line will need to be requested for HRS access. As a result of HSE recommendations to limit the radiological consequences of a fire in the ISOLDE target area, the Fire safety upgrade will include the implementation of an iodine retention system because of the release of radioactive iodine during target changes.

The committee is told that O. Aberle from the SY department has been nominated to work with E. Siesling on the integration of PUMA at ISOLDE and it is stressed that there is a significant amount of infrastructure elements needed in order to get the MR-ToF in place as required by PUMA. S. Freeman explains that discussions are underway about which relevant technical team will maintain the MR-ToF equipment.

G. Neyens thanks everyone involved in commissioning activities and in particular J.A. Rodriguez. The ISOLTRAP team are also thanked for their help with target testing.

5. Update on the ISOLDE Superconducting Recoil Separator (ISRS) – I. Martel Bravo

The committee is told that studies towards the development of a superconducting recoil separator for ISOLDE began in 2019 and a letter of intent (INTC-I-228) was approved by the INTC in 2021. The objective of the LoI was to carry out a R&D program to study the possibility of developing a compact fragment separator using innovative concepts and technologies including:

  • Mini-particle storage ring
  • Fixed Field Alternating Gradient
  • Iron free combined-function Canted Cosine Theta (CCT) magnets
  • Cryostats cooled by cryocoolers

I. Martel Bravo briefly summarises the potential benefits of the project and then, after explaining the basic principles of recoil separators, the ISRS concept is introduced. Results of work done so far on beam dynamics and CCT dipole and triplet design as well as CCT technology development are presented. This work has led to preliminary designs of the ISRS being produced with the device having a cross measurement of 3.5m. Regarding location in the experiment hall, the ISRS would be best suited to being positioned at XT03 or in space next to MINIBALL. However, space would not necessarily have to be identified for CCT and buncher test benches as these could be located at outside institutes such as CMAM-Madrid, HIL-Warsaw and ESS-Bilbao.

The funding for the R&D for the ISRS is summarised with a recent MoU signed between CERN and Spain to fund CERN experiments with active participation of Spanish groups (2022-2025) and an application submitted to the PATHFINDER EU program (2023-2026). The committee is informed that a letter to the ISCC with project details is being prepared that will request a review and endorsement of the activity.

Finally, I. Martel Bravo lists the institutes collaborating on the project and mentions that collaboration with the CERN magnet group is on-going.

6. Financial and MOU Matters – S. Freeman

H. Meinhard is welcomed to the meeting and, after explaining his function as support to the Director of Research and Computing, he informs the committee that he is the prime contact for supporting Financial Review Committees (FRC) at CERN. The committee is reminded that, as well as requiring collaborations to have an annual financial review, the CERN general conditions require all experiment results to be made public, preferably through open access; this is also a requirement from major funding agencies in CERN member states. The CERN Scientific Information Service (SIS) manages open access publications centrally through a number of agreements with all key publishers. For “standard” journals, if the corresponding author is from CERN the open access is handled automatically and if not, SIS should be contacted to handle the commercial arrangement. The process would be assisted if ISOLDE-CERN and the IS number are mentioned in the collaboration field of the publication. For all “non-standard” journals (including all Nature journals) the author should contact SIS as soon as possible and before submission via open-access-questions@cern.ch . SIS can also help to find the most suitable journal and the lowest cost for open access as well as answer questions if there are any doubts about the open access procedure. All information and the interactive CERN Author Guide can be found via cern.ch/open-access.

CERN General Conditions, released in 2020, states that all experiments making use of CERN Third-Party Accounts must  have a body responsible for financial review and H. Meinhard explains that for non-LHC experiments this is known as a Financial Review Committee (FRC). The FRC is meant to be at least as much help as a burden, for example, by being an information channel with funding agencies and CERN management. CERN considers ISOLDE the collaboration, hence there should be one such body for ISOLDE and not one for each IS experiment. The FRC must consist of one representative of CERN as the Host Laboratory, acting as chair, one representative of each Collaboration Institution or Funding Agency and the Resources Coordinator. If they are multiple funding agencies for one member state then they can all attend or can agree to send just one representative. The FRC shall review:

  • the financial contributions of each collaborating institution
  • the annual budget of the Collaboration
  • the expenses incurred by the Collaboration
  • a record of the ownership of equipment.

The review process shall be carried out on an ongoing basis and give rise to an annual report.

H. Meinhard explains that the FRC should meet once a year and the agenda should include:

  • the Spokesperson’s report on the collaboration status (physics, detectors, collaboration etc.)
  • the CERN-Finance report about the evolution of the relevant third-party account
  • the Resource coordinator’s report on expenditures and revenues in the previous year, status in the current year and the budget forecast for the following year as well as the ownership inventory. CERN-Finance expenditure categories should be used for the report and any major expenses and significant changes or delays should be flagged. The report should contain a table of all funding agencies and their due contributions as well as an overview of invoices issued and invoices paid. If there are, exceptionally, any in-kind contributions, the report should explain that it concerns tasks to be commonly funded and that the value is at least the contribution amount due. It is expected that the Collaboration (ISCC) will have fully endorsed the report before the FRC meeting.
  • The FRC decision on approval of the financial report. The main focus should be on compliance with the MoU and CERN General Conditions.

The committee is told that the next steps it needs to take are to appoint a Resource Coordinator and provide a list of the funding agency representatives who will be members of the committee by the end of August. At least one month before the FRC meeting a draft version of the financial report should be made available which should then be finalised and published about two weeks before the meeting. The committee is advised that the first FRC meeting should focus on the ISOLDE Collaboration Third Part Account (T131900) and the review of other subsets, such as the CRIS, ISS, MINIBALL collaboration accounts, could be postponed until the second meeting. H. Meinhard is thanked for his contribution to this ISCC meeting.

S. Freeman asks all ISCC members to contact their funding agencies to determine who should be their representative on the FRC and to inform him as soon as possible. Two documents about the FRC were sent to committee members on 15th June 2022; the first was a draft document about FRC arrangements and the second was a sample financial report from the CERN FAP department. The committee accepts these documents without comment (subject to approval by the CERN Directorate). It is hoped to arrange the first FRC meeting in Spring 2023, however, as the ISCC first has to approve the financial report before it can be sent to the FRC, a meeting of the FRC in February is probably not feasible.

The committee is informed that there are currently no issues with the 2022 contributions to the Collaboration with most invoices already sent out and several already paid. By arrangement, the remaining invoices will be sent out later in the year. At the previous ISCC meeting it was agreed to extend the CZ-IEAP institutional agreement until the Czech Republic in a position  to become a full member of the Collaboration but the formal re-signing of the document has been delayed while the IEAP budget is under negotiation (the document has since been signed).

The committee is reminded that Greece and South Africa have been paying a reduced membership fee of 30kCHF a year (Greece since 2010 and South Africa since 2015) but both of these arrangements will expire in 2022. The ISCC acknowledges the very difficult financial circumstances in South Africa that restrict the ability of National Research Foundation (NRF) to move beyond the 30 kCHF starting subscription at the current time. The ISCC also noted (i) the interest of NRF to continue activities at and maintain links with CERN, (ii) that effective collaborations have been initiated during the period of ISOLDE membership, and (iii) that strong proposals and experiments have been led by South African scientists at ISOLDE. In view of these, the ISCC agreed to extend the period of the starting subscription for a period of three years, up to and including 2025, which has been recorded in the revision of Annex 7.2 of the ISOLDE MOU. The ISCC strongly encourages NRF to plan for full financial commitment at the end of that period. Efforts are being made to contact the Greek representative in order to clarify the future of Greece’s membership of the ISOLDE Collaboration.

S. Freeman explains that, as the ISOLDE MoU will roll forward for another three years at the end of 2022, the annexes should be updated. A document containing proposed changes to the annexes was recently sent to committee members and several further updates are presented. Issues were raised with the change to the “Spectroscopy” entry in annex 7.3 to “ Instrumentation for Decay and Reaction Spectroscopy”; S. Freeman, along with the Danish, Swedish and Spanish representatives will try to clarify this issue. All other proposed changes to the annexes are approved by the committee. Regarding the participant list in annex 4, ten out of the 17 member states have provided updated information; the representatives of the remaining countries are asked to send updated participants lists to S. Freeman as soon as possible. The CERN Greybook contains those CERN Users with an active participation at ISOLDE so a link to this information will be added to annex 4.

7. Other Collaboration Matters – S. Freeman

A possible timeline and procedure is presented for the replacement of K. Johnston as ISOLDE Physics Coordinator when his contact ends in September 2023. The proposal, that is subject to approval by CERN EP and HR departments, would include an overlap of at least 2 months with the present physics coordinator to allow for sufficient knowledge transfer and would have the new coordinator in place from 1st October 2023. It is also proposed to have a one stage interview process with the ISOLDE Physics Section Leader, the ISCC and INTC Chairpersons, along with the necessary CERN representatives, present at the interview. The committee approves the proposed procedure including the one stage interview and also agrees that Collaboration funding can be made available for the overlap period if required. S. Freeman will discuss the possible duration of the appointment with the HR department with preference for it to be advertised as a 3-year post with possibility of extension.

The user funding provided by the Collaboration so far this year is summarised along with its distribution among member states that is, of course, related to experiment scheduling and spokespersons suggested allocations. Support is being provided at the same level as in 2021. The EURO-LABS grant agreement was signed by the EC Research Executive Agency on  the 14th June and the expected starting date of the project is 1st September with a kick-off meeting being held in Bologna 3-5 October 2022. The committee agrees that when EURO-LABS starts the current ISOLDE User support from the Collaboration should end for ISOLDE member countries who are covered by the EURO-LABS TNA funding. However, depending on the rules outlined in the EURO-LABS Grant Agreement, ISOLDE User Support will continue for those member countries not covered by the EU funding.

The call for community input to the new NuPECC Long Range Plan (LRP) is discussed and it is decided that S. Freeman will prepare a draft contribution from the ISOLDE Collaboration, keeping in mind that the ISOLDE Facility and CERN may also be asked for input. The draft document will be sent to ISCC members via email.

The committee is informed that the ISOLDE Beam Dump Replacement Study management board met in May and the required shielding volume was identified as a major cost driver. The more detailed study of the beam dump FLEXI concept as well as the work of a group led by J. Vollaire on the 2 GeV upgrade means that both aspects will have project and cost definition by the end of 2022. This will enable CERN to decide on the inclusion of the consolidation/upgrades in the MTP for implementation during LS3. This could involve a request for funding from the Collaboration.

S. Freeman summarises the status of yield tests at 1.7 GeV at ISOLDE with the PSB able to deliver 1.7 GeV protons and RP not having any concerns over short tests. Work is on-going to refine the beam optics for delivery and a proposal has been submitted to the INTC for a yield comparison between 1.4 and 1.7 GeV that could start this summer if approved.

A quick round-up of other Collaboration matters follows:

  • The Spanish funding from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), that has been allocated to experiments at CERN including ISOLDE, has not yet been received.
  • Delivery issues at CERN, encountered by some ISOLDE Users, were probably due to a transition period between contractors. Hence the situation should improve.
  • Letters of thanks, on behalf of the Collaboration, have been sent to V. Fedosseev and E. Barbero who will both soon retire.
  • Only one request has so far been received for the purchase of common equipment for the experimental hall. If there are any further requests they should be sent to S. Freeman as soon as possible.
  • A. Rodriguez is in contact with the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM) in Iran to determine projects that the institute could work on independent of CERN that would still be of use.
  • Discussions have taken place with the office of the Director of Research and Computing to clarify the need for MoUs and Third-party accounts for experimental set-ups at ISOLDE which should allow future arrangements to run more smoothly.
  • Communication regarding health and safety training for ISOLDE is on-going with there being a possibility that all RP training could be completed online. However, it is not clear yet if this would be a possibility for electrical safety training.

8. News from the ISOLDE coordinator – K. Johnston

The accelerator schedule for 2022 is shown and the committee told that, after physics started at ISOLDE on 28th March, there will be 245 days of physics this year. Delivery of protons will end on 28th November and it is unlikely that there will be a period of winter physics this year. K. Johnston presents the overview of beam requests received for 2022 and explains that there is a very high demand for beam this year but competing opportunities, such the large number of conferences, have made scheduling very complicated. Almost 50% of the shifts requested are for HIE ISOLDE but only 50% of the running period is available for scheduling these shifts. MINIBALL is back at ISOLDE this year but DAQ delays mean it can only take stable beam from September onwards. This delay has resulted in the August schedule being reshuffled to focus on machine development and low energy physics.

K. Johnston presents the 2022 ISOLDE schedule up to week 30 and informs the committee that 20 experiments have run so far this year and 187 shifts have been delivered for low-energy physics and beam development. Feedback from these runs is summarised. So far, 2022 has been a heavy experimental period for IDS but the strong local team has coped well. Reuse of previous targets during this period has been mostly successful while an issue has been encountered regarding the position of the proton beam to which the neutron converters are particularly sensitive. The committee is told that LIST is now becoming a highly requested unit but it requires extended set-up time and RILIS can’t be considered as “standard operation” for such runs either; extra resources for personnel would be useful.

It is reported that until now, 2022 has been relatively quiet for MEDICIS with some irradiations being made but the issue with the proton beam position is of particular relevance for MEDICIS. However, the MEDICIS frontend has been useful for checking some used ISOLDE targets.

K. Johnston presents the draft ISOLDE schedule for August and summarises the concerns and issues being experienced regarding autumn scheduling. The draft planning for 2023 is then discussed with preliminary dates for commissioning periods that would lead to beam for low energy physics being available from 10th April and for HIE ISOLDE physics on 20th July.

An overview of the shift backlog at ISOLDE is shown along with that of the proposals and LOIs submitted to the upcoming INTC meeting. HIE ISOLDE has the highest number of shifts still to be scheduled as well as the highest number of new requested shifts.

K. Johnston summarises the status of experiment setups in the ISOLDE hall:

  • Installation of Miniball is ongoing
  • The new Mössbauer setup is ready for stable beam commissioning in July and the first online runs are foreseen before the end of the year.
  • MIRACLS proof of purpose setup is now constructed at LA2 and commissioning with stable beam should start from 24th June.
  • The first experiment to run with the upgraded TAS setup will run next week.
  • SpecMAT has been successfully commissioned with sources in the ISS magnet.
  • VITO is in good shape and preparing for its next run.
  • After a busy IDS campaign, it is planned to install a new frame this autumn. A professional photographer, T. Struth, has taken photos of IDS to be used in his exhibitions.
  • Multipac has been delivered to building 275 and commissioning work should soon start. However, it has not yet been decided where this will eventually be housed; it is impossible to run with radioactive samples in building 275 so there is a possibility it could be moved to the laboratories in building 508 once the upgrade of the PAC machines has been completed in 2023.
  • The first PUMA@ISOLDE meeting took place on 1st June and space was identified to accommodate the setup at ISOLDE. However, PUMA is still only at the LOI stage so it is important that a proposal soon be submitted to the INTC.
  • The first part of ASPIC will come to ISOLDE in 2023 but, as yet, no permanent location has been allocated to the setup. It could initially run from LA1.
  • The new eMMA Mössbauer apparatus has arrived but it is unclear where this can be accommodated and there is no support staff; this seems to be a common issue with BMBF funded solid state physics projects.

The committee is reminded that, as well as the ever-increasing number of online courses required for entry to the ISOLDE experimental hall, all ISOLDE Users must complete both the RP and EP-wide Electrical safety hands-on courses that take place on Tuesdays. The Electrical course runs from 08:30 until 12:30 and the RP course from 14:00 until 16:00 so Users need to plan their visits to include a whole day of courses. If there are less than 3 people registered for these courses 15 days before the scheduled course date it will be cancelled by safety training organisers. Discussions are ongoing with the CERN safety training group to see if hands-on RP courses are still really necessary for all ISOLDE Users. However, the Electrical hands-on course is a French legal requirement for all Users/Staff who need to work in an experimental area; this course is currently not hard linked to access to the ISOLDE hall but this may change. In exceptional circumstances, ad hoc safety training sessions can be organised by the ISOLDE Physics Coordinator but this is very difficult to manage, especially during the running period.

Finally, K. Johnston informs the committee that a laser safety officer (LSSO) must now be appointed for each laser laboratory at CERN and this person has to take the new LSSO training course.   

9. News from ISOLDE group – S. Freeman

The committee is informed that this year’s ISOLDE Workshop and Users meeting will be held at CERN from 30th November to 2nd December. At present a hybrid format is being considered. Suggestions for invited speakers are welcome.

Concerning the EPIC proceedings, S. Freeman explains that, given changes in the financial environment it would be prudent to adjust the introduction. Discussions are planned with G. Neyens and K. Flanagan about how to move the document forward.

The present manpower situation in the ISOLDE Physics Group is summarised by S. Freeman:    

•           Research Fellows: Razvan Lica – IDS (June 2020 – extended to August 2022), Liss Vasquez Rodriquez - COLLAPS (Oct. 2020 – extended to Nov. 2022), Erich Leichensteiner (April 2021 – March 2023), Agi Koszorus – CRIS (October 2021 – Sept. 2023), Zoe Favier -IDS/Miniball (March 2022 – February 2024), Simon Lechner – VITO/PUMA (new fellow starting Oct. 2022 – Sept. 2024).

•           Applied Fellows: Markus Vilen – MR-ToF for ISOLDE and MIRACLS (October 2019 to September 2022), Bruno Olaizola – HIE-ISOLDE (September 2020 – extended to Dec. 2022), Frank Brown – MINIBALL (Sept. 2021 – August 2023), Patrick Macgregor – HIE-ISOLDE (new fellow starting Nov. 2022 to Oct. 2024).

•           Marie-Curie Individual Fellow: Monika Piersa-Silkowska (Feb. 2022 – Jan. 2024)

•           Scientific Associates: Janne Pakarinen (8 months, December 2021 – July 2022), Alexandre Obertelli (1 year, September 2021 – August 2022 –at AD), Zsolt Podolyak (8 months, February 2022 to September 2022), Georgi Georgiev (6 months, August 2022 to January 2023), Andrei Andreyev (12 months, October 2022 to September 2023) .

•           Corresponding Associate:  None.

•           Doctoral Students: Lukas Nies (CERN via Gentner Doctoral Program) (November 2019 to October 2022), Franziska Maier (CERN-MIRACLS via Gentner Doctoral Program) (February 2020 – January 2023), Michail Atanasakis (CERN EP-SME) (Sept. 2020 – Aug. 2023), Marcus Jankowski (CERN via Gentner Doctoral Program) (January 2021 to December 2023), Tim Lellinger (CERN via Gentner Doctoral Program) (March 2021 – February 2024), Mateusz Chojnacki (CERN-ERC Betadrop) (July 2021 – June 2024).

•           Staff Members: Karl Johnston (Physics Coordinator) (October 2015 to September 2023), Sean Freeman (Physics Group Leader) (August 2021 to July 2024), Magdalena Kowalska (CERN staff member) (January 2020 -).           

•           Visiting Scientist: Stephan Malbrunot –TRIUMF Staff with CERN affiliation (1st Feb 2022 - )    

•           User: Jenny Weterings (User Support) (2002- )

Applications for Fellows are greatly encouraged as a number of the present Fellows at ISOLDE will leave CERN in 2022. As there is lots of competition for Scientific Associate positions, applications for Corresponding Associates are perhaps more likely to succeed. S. Freeman should be informed directly of all applications.

10. A.O.B.

  • A suggestion is made to hold future June and November ISCC meetings online while keeping the February meeting as an in-person event. The committee agrees to hold the November 2022 meeting online and meet again in person in February 2023 when a decision about the remaining 2023 meetings will be taken.
  • J. Pakarinen asks the committee to consider whether the ISOLDE facility is meeting sustainability targets. A short discussion takes place about actions already taken to improve sustainability at ISOLDE, such as changing to LED lighting to save electricity, and possible future initiatives.

17. Dates of the next meeting

The next ISSC meeting will be held via Zoom on Monday 7th November 2022.

Meeting ends at 16:00.

N.B. The above presentations can be found via https://indico.cern.ch/event/1168692/ .