Physicists Build Analog Devices’ Components into Antarctic ‘Ice’ Telescope Designed to Decode Mysteries of
- “IceCube” Neutrino Observatory relies on ADI converters and amplifiers to help scientists study physical
properties of dark energy and dark matter.
Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Buried two kilometers under solid ice on one of the coldest continents on Earth,
Analog Devices’ (NYSE: ADI)
data converters and
amplifiers are helping scientists at the South Pole build the world’s largest telescope to search for the
smallest subatomic particles known to humankind.
The innovative “underground” telescope project is called
IceCube and uses a cubic kilometer of pure,
ultra-translucent ice at the South Pole as a telescopic “window” or particle detector to search the universe for
its smallest known particles, called neutrinos (See
movies and animations on IceCube and how it works). Neutrinos are subatomic particles that lack an electric
charge produced by the decay of radioactive elements and elementary particles. Neutrinos travel at near the speed
of light and are so tiny that they can typically pass through solid matter without colliding with any atoms.
However when neutrinos collide with an atom, light energy is emitted that can help detect the presence and
direction of these sub-atomic particles.
IceCube will search for neutrinos from the most violent
astrophysical sources, including events like exploding stars, gamma ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena
involving black holes and neutron stars. The
IceCube telescope is a powerful tool to search for dark
matter, and could reveal new physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy
particles in nature.
IceCube uses Antarctica’s ice sheet as the largest
instrumented volume of ice/water in the world. Neutrinos passing through the ice sheet collide with atoms creating
a blue light at impact that can be detected by
IceCube’s digital optical modules (DOMS).
Devices’ data converters and amplifiers are installed in more than 5,000 of these DOMS. The DOMs, which are
13–inch-diameter glass pressure spheres, are deployed under the ice on a cable at depths of between 1.5 km and 2.5
km. Over the next 25 years while embedded in ice, the DOMs will detect and transmit experimental data about
“We needed low-power, reliable products capable of providing the longevity needed for this project,
especially on the main board in the DOMs. Design teams at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the
University of Wisconsin-Madison used ADI data converters and amplifiers that fit our needs and requirements," said
Jerry Przyblski, LBNL design engineer. “We used ADI products, such as ADCs (analog-to-digital converters), DACs
(digital-to-analog converters) and amplifiers, in the DOMS and the communications system. So far,
IceCube’s scientists have gathered data equal to thousands of DOM years of operation.”
The construction of the
IceCube underground telescope will be completed in 2011. The National Science Foundation awarded the
University of Wisconsin lead responsibility in building IceCube.
The project is a collaboration among researchers from around the world, including Belgium, Germany, The
Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Sweden. Installing the DOMS In the Ice
To install the DOMS, a hot water drill shoots 200 gallons per minute of 190° F water at 1,000 psi to melt 1-km to
2-km holes in the Antarctica ice. After the ice-holes are opened, cables beaded with 60 neutrino-detecting DOMs
are lowered into the 200,000 gallons of melted ice. The ice refreezes in about 24 hours encasing the DOMs and
ADI’s converters and amplifiers in temperatures ranging from -20°C to -30°C. The final seven ice holes will be
drilled next year for a total of 86 ice holes with 60 DOMs each. Here’s an animation that shows DOMS embedded in
About Analog Devices, Inc.
Innovation, performance, and excellence are
the cultural pillars on which Analog Devices has built one of the longest-standing, highest-growth companies
within the technology sector. Acknowledged industry-wide as the world leader in data-conversion and
signal-conditioning technologies, Analog Devices serves over 60,000 customers, representing virtually all types of
electronic equipment. Celebrating over 40 years as a leading global manufacturer of high-performance integrated
circuits for analog- and digital-signal processing applications, Analog Devices is headquartered in Norwood,
Massachusetts, with design and manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Analog Devices' common stock is
listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “ADI” and is included in the S&P 500 Index.