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ATLAS Pixel Detector

Sommersemester 2010 

Executive Summary


Founded in 1954, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and well known centers for scientific research and fundamental physics. One of CERN’s core current goals is to find the Higgs-Boson, an elementary particle only predicted to exist. The goal of this specific research project is to find various fields of application for an already developed technology in order to have a positive and sustainable impact on society and receive publicly financed investments.

The specific technology being researched is the ATLAS Pixel Detector, a device developed for the purpose of measuring trajectories of elementary particles such as electrons, protons, photons and neutrons via conversion. It is divided into three parts, which can be used independently and adapted in accordance to the customers’ individual requirements. Thus, it is a cutting-edge technology with the potential of being used in different industrial sectors. In order to achieve the research goal and thus determine suitable and economically feasible fields of application for this novel device the process of „technological competence leveraging” was applied. By generating benefits of the technology on an abstract level and then using a problem based search approach with more than 200 interviews, various promising fields could be identified. Based on a diligent analysis, recommendations for market entries into distinctive sectors could be derived.

Initial Situation

CERN is fully funded by its 20 member states. Due to the fact that CERN is highly dependent on these subsidies, CERN is trying to justify its costly research programs by finding alternative ways to use the developed technologies.
Furthermore, the knowledge creation at CERN is state of the art. Therefore, the utilization of CERN´s technologies beyond their research facilities could lead to tremendous technological developments and improvements in product quality. That is why CERN forces the dissemination of information about its technology and is trying to attract potential companies which could implement this technology in their products or optimize their existing products.
The specific technology for this project, the Atlas Pixel detector, was especially developed for the extreme requirements of CERN’s Large Hadron collider. The Atlas Pixel Detector is comparable to a large digital camera and is capable of capturing approximately 40 million frames per second. Every pixel has its own read out electronics which enables the detector to work at this very high speed.
The sensitivity of the detector is adjustable and the technology could be based either on silicon or diamond.

Project Target

The main goal of the project was to find a large number of promising application fields. Furthermore, the identified potential fields should be as heterogeneous as possible in order to detect completely new and unlinked areas.
After finding and evaluating the fields of application, the projects further procedure
was a profound analysis of the most promising fields. Ultimately, a commercialization strategy for proper market entry is to be derived.

Procedure and Methodology

The applied method of Technological Competence Leveraging is a standardized proc-
ess of user community-based search for alternative or new fields of application for a given product or technology.  This method consists of the four interrelated steps:

  • Identification of User Benefits
    The first step comprised the identification of the technology’s benefits from the current user’s point of view. consequently, the second step consisted of aggregating the mentioned benefits into three abstract core benefits by each team.

  • Systematic search for new fields of application
    In order to search for the core benefits both teams conducted about 200
    interviews. Furthermore, various posts were placed in forums in order to identify potential users who are able to profit from the sensor technology. The search was guided by the techniques of pyramiding and broadcasting.
    The analysis of the interviews and posts in forums entitled both teams each to derive
    three fields of application. 

  • Analysis of their Commercial Potential
    In a next step the identified fields were evaluated by taking into account two factors, namely “Benefit Relevance” (Market Side) and “Strategic Fit” (company Side).
    This resulted in a suggestion of the three most promising fields of application by each
    team. Hence, the next step was to determine the commercial attractiveness via a diligent market analysis. This procedure included exploring the target market, its growth rate and other crucial details. In addition, a competitor analysis and a SWOT-analysis were carried out in order to lay the basis for the commercialization strategy. 

  • Deriving a Commercialization Strategy
    Based on the information gathered in the third step, individual commercialization strategies for each application field were developed.


Out of twenty preselected fields, CERN and the two student teams selected the following six for a detailed analysis and derived commercialization strategies:

  1. medical Imaging with a market potential of € 5.780,00 million, a market volume of € 5.238,27 million and a market growth rate of 3.5 - 7.0%.

  2. Spot welding with a market potential of € 5.352,00 million, a market volume of €
    2.000,00 – 2.400,00 million and a market growth rate of 0.0 – 7.0%. 

  3. railroad industry with a market potential of € 764,2 million, a market volume of €3.6 million and a market growth rate of 2,1 – 3,3%. 

  4. Non-destructive testing with a market potential of € 2,411 million and a market volume of € 583 million and a market growth rate is about 5.73%.

  5. Chemical analysis of minerals with a market potential of EUR 8,757 million, a market volume of EUR 1,751 million and a market growth rate of about 7.2%.

  6. Civil engineering with a market potential of EUR 1,039 million, a market volume of
    EUR 426 million and a market growth rate of about 10%.

Cooperation Partner

  • European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
    Genève 23
    CH-1211 Switzerland

  • Ansprechpartner:
    DI Dr. Heinz Pernegger (CERN)
    Tel:  + 41 76 487 2923 E-Mail:

Student Team

  • Hannes Baumgartner
    Oliver Grabher
    Emanuel Kuzmich 
    Julia Koch 
    Monika Lerch 
    Patrick Schwarzl 
    Georg Zajko 
    Katarina Znasikova  
    Studierendenteam 2:
    Harald Augenender
    Michael Austerer
    Rolf-Jürgen Hornasek
    Philipp Kottbauer
    Jakob Lackinger
    Max Morwind
    Bernhard Reingruber
    Hanna Roitner