It’s not only the pandemic that makes a zoom conference with Mehul Shiroya the most suitable way to meet him: He is working from home writing down his Master thesis. The camera remains switched off today – the reason might be the usual piles of paper, empty tea cups and half-eaten pizzas that are so typical for the final phase of your thesis and that you wouldn’t like to have as a video background.
For one year, Mehul worked at GSI and FAIR, doing quality checks on silicon strip sensors for the CBM experiment. CBM (Compressed Baryonic Matter) is one of the four research pillars at FAIR, an experiment that aims to investigate matter in a state where it is as dense as in colliding neutron stars where it is thought to be dissolved into its elementary particles quark and gluons. The new FAIR facility will accelerate heavy ions close to the speed of light that will then collide with extremely high energies to produce highly dense stellar-like matter in the lab.
Several millions of collisions per second will be generated per second, and the CBM detector systems aims to detect as many of the resulting particles as possible. So Mehul checked 1191 silicon strip sensors for the future CBM Silicon Tracking System by using optical inspection methods. These silicon sensors are extremely delicate and very thin. Usually they are 10 times thinner than your regular potato chips. Each of these silicon sensors is 300 µm thin and requires a sophisticated handling procedure to inspect, and do regular functionality tests. These tests are done in high grade clean environment. “Inspection is extremely important to provide a good detector system”, Mehul explains. “As little defects as possible allow for less background noise and a better particle resolution later in the experiments. However, the number of sensors I had to work with was really huge, and to be responsible for hundreds of sensors is quite a thing.”
Mehul is proud to be able to participate into the CBM project that involves hundreds of scientists from all over the world: “It was a great opportunity that I could be a part of the great CBM team, and I learned so many things, especially in technology”, Mehul states. “I highly appreciate that the GET_Involved programme supported me to take this opportunity, and it was fascinating to work at the place where the FAIR construction is growing.”
Mehul made his Bachelor in particle physics at Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat, Gujarat, India, and then went to Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, for his master thesis. Why Germany, why Frankfurt? “Germany has many good universities, and Frankfurt is a pretty good one”, Mehul states. Although the pandemic has been quite difficult to deal with – with the university being closed, personal contacts restricted and traveling not allowed – he learned some German, enough for a small chat with fellow students.
In the end, Mehul’s experiences during this master thesis convinced him to stay in science: “Actually, my intention of doing the master’s degree abroad was to improve my prospects of getting a good job. But now, I plan to stay in science and I will look for a Ph.D. position, if possible in detector technology.” As a long-term goal he could even imagine to start as an Indian FAIR/GSI collaboration partner at an academic institution in India. But firstly, of course, he has to finish writing down his thesis. (mbe)
GET_Involved –Internship Programme-Stay of Mehul Shiroya, Surat, Gujarat, India
Funding: GET_INvolved Research scholarship
Duration: 1 year
Application to GET_INvolved Programme: https://fair-center.eu/get_involved