97th ISCC Meeting

15th June 2023

Minutes of the 97th Meeting of the ISOLDE Collaboration Committee

held on June 15th 2023


Present: S. Freeman, L. Gaffney, G. Georgiev, A. Herzan, V. Ingeborg (replacing S. Siem), K. Johnston, A. Koszorus (replacing N. Severijns), M. Kowalska, E. Nacher, D. Naidoo, A. Nannini, G. Neyens, W. Noertershaeuser (replacing L. Schweikhard), J. Pakarinen, M. Pfützner, C. Mihai, G. Rainovski, J.A. Rodriguez, S. Siem(P.T.), E. Siesling, J. Vollaire

Absent: S. Gilardoni, A. Lagoyannis

Excused: J. Cederkall, H. Fynbo

Invited: H. Heylen, N. van der  Meulen, A.-P. Bernardes(P.T.)

The meeting starts via Zoom at 09:00 h

1. Introductory remarks

G. Neyens opens the meeting and welcomes the members of the committee. W. Noertershaeuser is replacing L. Schweikhard at this meeting, while V. Ingeborg replaces S. Siem and A. Koszorus replaces N. Severijns. H. Heylen, who will take over from K. Johnston as the ISOLDE physics Coordinator after September, attends the meeting as an observer. N. van der Meulen is invited to attend the meeting while Switzerland is in the process of signing the collaboration MoU.

2. Approval of the Minutes of the last meeting of March 9th 2023

The minutes from the previous meeting are approved.

3. Update on YETS Activities and Startup of ISOLDE – J. Vollaire

The committee is told that, despite the short window for interventions due to the ventilation upgrade, all YETS activities were completed by 16th March ready for proton commissioning and physics started on schedule on 3rd April. J. Vollaire explains that, since the restart, the HRS Frontend vacuum has been seen to degrade over time. Analysis has shown the issue to be linked to a Faraday Cup which has been disabled as it is not critical for operation.

RILIS activities since the start-up are briefly summarised. Experiment runs requiring the use of RILIS have been long and demanding with two laser failures already this year.  The plans for laser consolidation during 2023 and 2024 are summarised.

J. Vollaire then reports on the YETS activities and start-up status of HIE ISOLDE. Efficiency issues at REXTRAP are being worked on by F. Wenander and the TRAP should be operational by 3rd July at the latest. A serious mechanical issue occurred at REXEBIS during gas line modification but the problem was addressed swiftly by F. Wenander and the EBIS was back online by 29th May in time for beam commissioning by the operations group. The many issues encountered with the REX RF are discussed; the 7GAP1 instabilities observed last year are still there and not completely understood. During 2022, this issue limited the A/q to 4.25 and it is yet to be determined if this can be maintained this year. The reduction in A/q should only impact the Hg run at MINIBALL but the efficiency should still be acceptable. The committee is told that all YETS cryo activities went to schedule. J. Vollaire then explains that, after successful reconditioning of the SRF cavities, a stable total gradient of the HIE SC LINAC of 79% was achieved by mid-May but on 10th June Cavity 5 in CM1 quenched probably due to pollution on the Nb layer. D. Valuch (RF) managed to re-establish 1.3MV/m instead of the earlier achieved 3,2MV/m however the operations group is reluctant to run this cavity as further degradation during the year would result in the need for painstaking re-phasing of the 15 downstream SRF cavities. With this cavity isolated, the total gradient efficiency reduces from 79% to 76%.

The committee is told that, due to the issues with REX, beam commissioning has been severely pushed back and is now on a critical path. The operations group will prioritise delivery of stable beam to ISS on 6th July and the first HIE-ISOLDE physics at MINIBALL on 19th July but it cannot be guaranteed at this time as it depends on when REX is actually made available to them and if other issues are encountered during commissioning. Due to time constraints and to help ensure that the MINIBALL run starts on time, the stable beam will be based on the reference set-up for the first physics run. Also, necessary reference settings will be taken as part of preparation for following experiments. K. Johnston states that there would be options to rearrange runs in order to help optimise operation if it should be required.

J. Vollaire explains that the RF team manpower situation is worrying. G. Piccinini (RF) gives as much support as his other commitments allow and the critical situation is well understood by the RF group. However, other machines (LINAC3, etc) often have a higher priority which makes situations difficult to manage. From now on, only daytime support from RF can be expected; past support given by the departing RF expert was on a voluntary basis. The good news is that a full consolidation of the REX RF system is expected during LS3.

The committee is informed that target production has gone according to schedule despite a problem with oily residues being found being found in the target base after the heating cycle, the required additional cleaning steps had an impact on the workload. On the staffing side, there will be the usual manpower turnover in the target team during the coming year with two fellows who have leading roles in TISD activities and target production leaving soon. The committee is told that, a few times over the last few years, it has been observed that a target change on one frontend causes a temperature change on the other target. It is not thought that this is something systematic but there are ideas on how to improve the situation during LS3.

On behalf of the RILIS team, J. Vollaire reports on the limitations encountered with the current infrastructure of the laser laboratory. At present it houses 5 DPSS lasers, 3 dye lasers and 3 or 4 Ti:Sa lasers so there is capability to serve both HRS and GPS at the same time if the element(s) are coordinated according to the required lasers. However, due to space constraints, this is restricted to only a few possible combinations and means that it is not possible to set-up the lasers in advance of the run or to operate both Frontends with lasers in parallel as there is only space for a single launch preparation area. Hence, considering the growing demand for laser ionised beams, RILIS requires more space in order to streamline operation and to increase its capabilities. It is suggested that a working group, led by the technical team, is set up to consider how much space RILIS requires as well as what would be the best location for the facility and to suggest feasible options. It should however be noted that these improvements will be within the scope of the ISOLDE Improvement Programme, for which an overall financial envelope has already been advertised to CERN management. The Improvement programme already has a critical timescale with a cost review in the autumn (see Item 6).

4. Update the Beam Dumps Replacement Study – A.-P. Bernardes

The status of the existing ISOLDE dumps is briefly discussed. The 4 thermocouples installed in the GPS and HRS dumps in March 2023 are performing well and giving consistent, reasonable values. Temperatures have been found to be lower than expected. Two tests were performed with continuous beam at 2µA for a period of 12-14 hours followed by no beam so the dumps could return to room temperature. The results of the tests are presented as well as those from simulations using a thermo-mechanical model of the dumps.

A.-P. Bernardes then summarises the results and conclusions from the radiation measurements taken during the running of the INTC approved experiment IS717 “Determination of radioactive ion beam production yields using 1.4- and 1.7-GeV protons”. The results show that physics with 1.7 GeV at 2µA is already possible from a technical point of view, with regard to the present dumps and shielding, at GPS but due to radiation safety in the RILIS cabin it is not possible at HRS. However, if it is decided to move the RILIS cabin the opportunity should be taken to reinforce shielding in this area as this would be a limiting factor for higher energies. A.-P. Bernardes queries whether a physics programme at 1.7 GeV before LS3 might be encouraged in order to demonstrate interest from the physics community and to forward the learning process.

The committee is told that the ISOLDE Beam Dump Replacement Study (IBDRS) is progressing well. It has been decided to use the FLEXI concept, with operation parameter 2 GeV and infrastructure to take currents up to 6µA, as the baseline due to it being the best cost/benefit solution. The cost estimate provided to management is 12.5 MCHF. The status of the three stages of the project (Dismantling, Construction, Dump and Shielding) are briefly presented. A detailed dismantling study has been performed by an external contractor. No show stoppers were flagged but the cost estimate was ten times that expected so cost optimisation is in progress e.g. 80% of the shielding can be made from recycled in house iron. A market survey for the dismantling and construction phases is being launched in order to determine if the cost estimate of 12.5MCHF is realistic and if any companies are actually interested in taking on the work. Extensive FLUKA simulations are on going to optimise shielding design, evaluate material and air activation, and assess activation of the dump water cooling system. Simulations are also being made to calculate the residual dose rate in the Faraday Cage with the new dumps in place and the benefit of using movable shielding in front of the dumps.

A.-P. Bernardes explains that additional consolidation, currently not part of the IBDRS, and ALARA solutions will be required in order to reach regular operation at the highest intensities. These would include the reduction of stray radiation in certain locations, the residual dose rate in the target area and atmospheric releases.

Regarding the limit in intensity for 1.4 GeV, A.-P. Bernardes asks for input from the community on what intensity should apply to simulations. G. Neyens asks what that the maximum intensity would be. The possible intensity from the Booster is complicated and apparently being worked on by the Booster teams but no official answer has yet been received.

The committee thanks A.-P. Bernardes and the IBDRS team for all their hard work on the project so far.

5. Discussion of ISCC Chair – G. Neyens

The committee is reminded that normal mandate for the ISCC Chair is 3 years. However, due to the present chair taking on extra duties at their home institute and the fact that S. Freeman has agreed to stay on for an extra year as the ISOLDE Physics group leader, the end of 2023 would be a good time for a change of ISCC Chair. The committee agrees to this.

A discussion follows about how to proceed in order to select the next Chair of the committee. G. Neyens and S. Freeman will prepare a description of the responsibilities of the position and send it to voting members of the ISCC by the end of June. Potential applicants within the current ISCC are then encouraged to apply. A search committee put together by S. Freeman, who is a none voting committee member, and made up of ISCC members will consider suggestions for possible candidates external to the ISCC who, if interested, will be asked to submit a CV and a motivation letter by the end of September. Those ISCC members who do not intend to apply for the position and are willing to be part of the search committee are asked to inform S. Freeman as soon as possible.

The following points are clarified:

  • The current national representatives on the ISCC are those who are allowed to vote for the next committee chair.
  • If a voting member of the committee is a candidate then a substitute should be nominated to represent that country for the voting process.
  • If the new Chair is a country representative on the ISCC then a new country representative should be nominated.

The committee approves this procedure.

6. Collaboration Matters – S. Freeman

The committee is reminded that CERN policy is for all publications to be Gold Open access including those in Nature journals. Using arxiv is not sufficient. The landscape is constantly evolving with transformative agreements (journal subscription and payment for OA submissions) appearing with CERN, in various countries at national level and at institutions. CERN agreements usually cover papers with CERN (staff/fellows) corresponding authors or where the paper is from a collaboration so adding “and the ISOLDE Collaboration” at the end of the author list makes a difference for some journals. The CERN library is currently compiling advice on publishing articles with those journals appearing in the ISOLDE publication list 2020-2022 that will be shared with the collaboration email list.

Regarding Swiss membership of the Collaboration, S. Freeman explains that PSI is contacting current active Swiss participants to confirm PSI representation and it is hoped that the MoU Addendum will be signed soon. Clarity over the national membership in the 2016 version of the MoU is at the root of the delay.

After difficulties in contacting the Greek ISCC representative about future subscription levels, S. Freeman was verbally informed by the Greek funding representative in March that Greece would leave the Collaboration due to a shift in research focus. The necessary formal steps were immediately confirmed in an email and again after the FRC but, as yet, no reply has been received. The MoU requires a formal letter giving one year notice of leaving the Collaboration and gives provision for compensation. The committee agrees that no compensation will be requested from Greece.

The committee is told of the very successful HIE-ISOLDE Collaboration Meeting, organised by L. Gaffney and attended by about 50 people, at the end of May where the ISS, Miniball and SEC collaborations met in London to discuss physics from HIE-ISOLDE experiments and future plans. It is hoped this will be repeated in the future.

S. Freeman informs the committee that there is an extremely active programme of visits at ISOLDE, especially from schools and colleges, delivered by the early-career researchers (fellows, students and Users) coordinated by P. MacGregor. Recently there have been a number of high-level visits including from the UK STFC, the Deputy Director General of the South African Department of Science and Innovation and groups from the German BMBF and the DESY Project Office. High-level visits are usually organised via the CERN Protocol Office but S. Freeman is happy to facilitate ad-hoc visits if funding agency representatives are at CERN for other reasons.

The committee is informed that issues have occurred with radioactive sources at ISOLDE so there will need to be a change in the way sources are accessed. One or two people per instrument will be given a formal responsibility and allowed access to the sources. Use of open sources will require a specific procedure for each instrument to be agreed with EP-HSE and RP-Source Services. It is suggested that, in the first instance, users contact EP-HS who are very knowledgeable concerning the local infrastructure and practices at ISOLDE and are better placed to contact other safety services within CERN (L. Rowland is currently liaison for ISOLDE).

A reminder is given about suggestions for the purchase of equipment or infrastructure supported by the Collaboration. Improvements to video conferencing facilities in building 508 are currently being funded by the Collaboration and it is planned to support a system for gas exhaust on the HIE-ISOLDE beamlines, as well as the detector laboratory infrastructure.

The committee is informed that the first Financial Review Committee for the ISOLDE Collaboration Third Party Account was organised by the office of the Director of Research and Computing and took place on 20th April. The meeting lasted for an hour and a quarter and consisted of an ISOLDE Status Report and Resource Manager Report, both presented by S. Freeman, as well as a Report from CERN Finance given by K. Gachet (FAP). CERN was represented at the meeting by J. Mnich (Director of Research and Computing) and his deputy P. Wells as well as H. Meinhard. The member states of the collaboration are represented by a mixture of ISCC members, academic representatives and funding agencies (not all of them were present at the meeting) :
Belgium: Nathal Severijns
Bulgaria: Georgi Rainovski
Denmark: Hans Fynbo 
Finland: Katri Huitu (Helsinki)
France: Marcella Grasso (IN2P3) and Frank Sabatie (CEA)
Germany: Maren Meinhard (BMBF)
Greece: Costas Fountas (Ioannina)
Italy: Diego Bettoni (INFN)
Norway: Øyvind Frette (Bergen)
Poland: Marek Pfutzner
Romania: Andreea Fazacas (Nat. Auth. for Sci. Research and Innov.)
Slovakia: Ľubomíra Lenčešová  (Ministry Educ.Sci., Research, & Sport)
Spain: Pilar Hernandez (Valencia)
South Africa: Victor Spannenberg (NRF) 
Sweden: Joakim Cederkall and VR rep.
UK: Jenny Hiscock (STFC)
The ISOLDE status report given at the meeting attempted to give an introduction to ISOLDE science, culture and practices as well as information about the Collaboration and how money is used. Consolidation, improvements and expansion plans were also summarised in the report and followed by an operations summary for 2022 and some science highlights. The FAP report was rather high level and from an accountancy point of view, while the Resource Manager Report concentrated on member contributions as well as income and expenditure. The budget presented at the ISCC meeting in March, but with some minor updates, was shown at the FRC. Although not mandatory until next year, S. Freeman presented an ownership inventory to the FRC that was deduced from the annexes of the MoU and assumed that CERN adopted ownership of facility components while beam-line installations are owned by the institutions in the contributing countries. However, next year the inventory will need to be on a level of specific institutions rather than countries, i.e. who is responsible for removing which equipment when experiments come to an end. S. Freeman tells the committee that the FRC seemed to understand the scientific culture at ISOLDE and were not concerned about the financial practices such as flat contributions, fee level or the positive account balance. The FRC formally approved the on-going contributions for members of the ISOLDE collaboration. CERN requires all collaboration Third Party accounts to be financially reviewed so, from 2024, the FRC meeting will need to include the ISS, CRIS, MINIBALL, IDS etc. accounts and the ISOLDE Physics Group Leader will present material from the individual resource managers.

S. Freeman then gives an update on consolidation and improvements at ISOLDE. The decision timeline for the ISOLDE improvement program presented shows that, since the ISCC March meeting, the CERN Research Board has endorsed the program subject to the adoption of the MTP, the draft of  which will go to the CERN council for approval in June. The committee is reminded of the proposed consolidation and improvements; more information can be found via the LOI INTC-2023-028. S. Freeman explains the current challenging financial climate at CERN due to the escalation of electricity prices and inflation. However, it can be seen as positive that the draft 2023 MTP already includes urgent items as part of a combined package to address the most immediate ISOLDE needs. A huge amount of work has been done to identify, classify and cost improvement items for which ATS and especially J. Vollaire are thanked. A cost review of the whole improvement program is planned for September/October this year with the aim to have the final project for the consideration within MTP-2024 ready by the end of 2023.

Regarding the long term future of the ISOLDE facility, the next practical opportunity for major upgrades would be LS4 that is currently planned for 2033/2034. CERN will be developing its own strategy centred on decision making for the Future Circular Collider, which could present ISOLDE with significant new opportunities. A funding strategy will need to be developed that encompasses both the aspirations of the ISOLDE community and the future directions of CERN. A long term strategy could include a possible small scale extension and scenario planning for the potential post-LHC machines. It should be noted that the present CERN management appear quite supportive; in a recent presentation M. Lamont, Director of ATS, stated “Effective exploitation of ISOLDE is important in the long term – strong and vocal physics community”. However, CERN management will change in the future so there is a constant need for explanations of ISOLDE science, culture, operations and impacts. The stream of science highlights, such as the nuclear clock, passed to the communications office aids this task greatly.

The committee discusses the minor changes made to the ISOLDE Open data Policy that have been made after consultation with the CERN Open Science expert and the CERN lead for the EURO-LABS project as well as feedback received after the draft was circulated to ISCC members. It is agreed that physical samples are not considered as data. The committee approves the document that will now be sent out to the community and posted on the ISOLDE website. S. Freeman explains that the EURO-LABS project requires information on the Data Management Plan of each supported experiment to be collected from the experiment spokesperson.

Committee members are asked to inform their communities that, due to data protection policy, new users need to sign up to the ISOLDE Information email list (isolde@cern.ch) themselves in order not to miss out on important messages about the facility and career opportunities. This can be done by going to the CERN e-groups website and searching for ISOLDE.

7. News from ISOLDE group – S. Freeman

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

•           Research Fellows = “Senior Research Fellows Experimental and Theoretical Physics (Category 1)”: Zoe Favier -IDS (March 2022 – February 2024), Simon Lechner – MIRACLS/PUMA (Nov. 2022 – Oct. 2024, Louis Lalanne – CRIS (February 2023 – January 2024*).

•           Applied Fellows = “Research Fellowship In Applied Physics And Engineering (Category 2)”: Frank Browne – MINIBALL (Sept. 2021 – December 2023), Patrick Macgregor – HIE-ISOLDE (Nov. 2022 to Oct. 2024), Michael Pesek - VITO (November 2022 – October 2024), Lukas Nies – MR-TOFs/PUMA (Sept. 2023 – Aug. 2023).

•           QUEST Fellows = like an Applied Fellow – “project graduate”: Amy Sparks – VITO/medical imaging (May. 2023 – Nov. 2024),

•           Marie-Curie Individual Fellow: Monika Piersa-Silkowska (Feb. 2022 – Jan. 2024), *Louis Lalanne (February 2024 – January 2026)

•           Scientific Associates: Georgi Georgiev (6 months extended by 6 months, August 2022 to July 2023), Andrei Andreyev (12 months extended by 3 months, October 2022 to December 2023).

•           Corresponding Associate:  None.

•           Doctoral Students: Franziska Maier (CERN-MIRACLS via Gentner Doctoral Program) (February 2020 – special extension due to COVID to July 2023), Michail Athanasakis (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: Sean Freeman (Physics Group Leader) (August 2021 to July 2025), Magdalena Kowalska (CERN staff member) (January 2020 -), Mark Bissell (Research Physicist LD)(September 2022 to August 2025), Karl Johnston (Physics Coordinator) (October 2015 to September 2023), Hanne Heylen (Physics Coordinator) (September 2023 to August 2026).   

•           User: Jenny Weterings (User Support) ISOLDE Collaboration & University of Oslo (2002- )

S. Freeman understands that the special extension of doctoral contracts due to Covid will be withdrawn. There have been no external suggestions for EP-SME PhD funding so it will be used internally. In addition, two good Austrian Gentner applications are being reviewed.

Committee members are asked to encourage good candidates to submit applications for a “Research Fellowship: Applied Physics and Engineering” at MINIBALL as F. Browne will leave ISOLDE at the end of this year and for the “Research Fellowship: Experimental Physics” programme. The next deadline for fellows applications is 3rd September. S. Freeman clarifies that a QUEST fellow is similar to an Applied fellow but is connected directly to a specific project and funding stream.

8. News from the ISOLDE coordinator – K. Johnston

The injectors accelerator schedule for 2023 is presented with the key dates for ISOLDE being the start of protons on 10th April and ending on 30th October. Due to energy considerations, all accelerators will run about 20% less than in 2022 which means a relatively short run for HIE-ISOLDE but there should be about 3 weeks of winter physics.

An overview of the current shift backlog is shown as well as the beam requests received for 2023. K. Johnston informs the committee that, in addition to the shift backlog, another 116 shifts were award to experiments at the latest INTC meeting and have been approved by the Research Board.

The committee is shown the ISOLDE experiment schedule from weeks 14 to 38 and informed that the schedule for October is now being prepared. It is unlikely that there will be either a negative ion run or a WISArD run included in the schedule; no HIE-ISOLDE experiments can be run for 2-3 weeks while WISArD prepares and takes beam due to the magnetic field so it will probably be scheduled in early 2024. Approximately 140 shifts have been delivered so far this year with low energy runs being predominantly successful. There has been a nice COLLAPS run on Thallium after an upgrade of the beamline, CRIS has achieved good results from the n-rich Al run while TAS has also been running successfully. Advances have been made towards the use of 149Tb for targeted Alpha Therapy with a run in April achieving record breaking results.

The committee is informed that there has been huge interest in the 229Th nuclear clock experiment that took place at ISOLDE in 2021 after its publication in Nature. The next run is scheduled to take place in July.

K. Johnston gives a brief summary of the status of ISOLDE setups. The IDS frame is now installed and the fully upgraded beamline at CRIS was installed on time. The 2-αdecay experiment is ready to receive stable beam next week and the first run of MIRACLS will take place in August. In building 275, the ROC setup is being readied for beamtime in September or October while Multipac commissioning is on-going. SPECMAT tests will take place in July but future runs with flammable gases will be dependant on safety approval that will only be given after more suitable infrastructure is installed. The revised cost of the PUMA experiment has been approved by the Research board and funds made available for its installation towards the end of 2023 so the required space in the ISOLDE hall needs to be cleared. K. Johnston explains that space is available to store items in the long term storage for a period of 6 to 12 months as long as the item can fit on a pallet and is not radioactive.

The committee is reminded of the online and hands-on training required to get access to the ISOLDE facility. Registration for both the RP and Electrical hands-on training has to be made by the 15 day deadline before the scheduled course to avoid it being cancelled. The electrical hands-on course is now the new EP-wide electrical course for all users and staff who need to work in an experimental area although, at present, taking all the online courses will grant the electrical ranks required for ISOLDE access. However, long term users based at CERN need to take the course. Discussions are on-going about reducing the training load for the majority of ISOLDE users.

K. Johnston informs the committee that CERN has launched a recall of all proximeters. Users are requested to return their proximeters to J. Weterings as soon as possible.

The committee is told that the online pre-registration tool PRT used by teamleaders to launch User registrations for their team members has now been replaced by the new PREG form in EDH. When completing the PREG form, the status “User” should be selected and the primary experiment “ISOLDE”.

This ISCC meeting is the last attended by K. Johnston as the ISOLDE Physics Coordinator so he thanks the past and present ISOLDE Physics Group leaders the technical teams and the ISOLDE community for their support and wishes H. Heylen all the best as the future physics coordinator. The committee gives a huge thanks to K. Johnston for his 8 years of service as ISOLDE Physics Coordinator. His excellent coordination with the User community and his flexibility has managed to push the facility to its scientific limits.

9. A.O.B.

  • S. Freeman informs the committee that possible support for a post in the Target and Ion Source Group may need to be discussed via email before the next meeting.
  • J. Pakarinen tells the committee that the Finish SEP committee will soon report on future Finish involvement at ISOLDE and that feedback has been positive.
  • L. Gaffney informs the committee that the new UK representative, who is yet to be selected, will attend the next ISCC meeting. The committee thanks L. Gaffney for his input as an ISCC member.
  • I. Martel, will replace E. Nacher as the Spanish representative from the next meeting of the ISCC onwards. E. Nacher is thanked by the committee for his contribution to the collaboration.

17. Dates of the next meeting

The date of the next ISSC meeting and whether or not it is an in-person meeting will be decided after the availability of committee members is collected via a Noodle.   

Meeting ends at 12:40.

N.B. The above presentations can be found via https://indico.cern.ch/event/1287620/    .