Prestigious IEEE award for Stefan Ritt
Stefan Ritt, leader of the Muon Physics group at the Laboratory for Particle Physics, has received today the prestigious IEEE Emilio Gatti Radiation Instrumentation Technical Achievement Award, for "contributions to the development and democratization of ultra-high-speed digitizers”.
Stefan Ritt is a world-leading expert in the field of ultra-fast data acquisition. In particular, he is known as the ‘father’ of the DRS chip, an affordable sampling chip for waveform digitizing in the GHz range that is constantly gaining in importance since the first prototype was created in 2001.
Two decades and three chip generations later, PSI now supplies DRS4 chips across the world, for applications ranging from particle-physics experiments to astronomy, to medical PET imaging. But the benefits of fast-sampling capabilities at relatively low cost are felt as well at home, that is, at NUM. For numerous experiments data acquisition at the required high rates would be simply not feasible without the DRS chips. (For some further information, see this 2015 portrait.)
Now, Stefan Ritt’s work has been recognised with the Emilio Gatti Radiation Instrumentation Technical Achievement Award, which was (virtually) handed over to him today at the IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium. The award is given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to individuals in recognition of significant and innovative technical contributions in the broad field of radiation detectors. The IEEE cites not only Ritt’s contributions to the development of ultra-high-speed digitizers, but also their ‘democratization’. This is an important aspect of Ritt’s work, who pursued an alternative route to founding a spin-off company. Instead, chips and evaluation boards are produced at PSI and distributed on a non-profit basis, such that a constantly growing ‘DRS4 community’ worldwide (see the map above) can benefit from the capabilities offered by the chip.
The Emilio Gatti Radiation Instrumentation Technical Achievement Award is not the first time the IEEE recognises Ritt’s work. In 2016 he was elevated to IEEE Fellow, for the development of the DRS series of chips. Beyond his seminal works on data-acquisition hardware, Ritt is also a driving force in particle-physics experiments, such as in the Mu3e collaboration, where he serves as co-spokesperson.