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Leveraging HV-CMOS Technology

Wintersemester 2013 / 2014


Background and Problem Statement

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is a research organization funded by its 21 member states, which focuses on fundamental particle physics. Since 2008 CERN is running the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The particles are brought to collision inside four detectors, of which one is the ATLAS experiment.

Currently a new type of particle sensor is being developed for one of ATLAS’ subsystems. This new HV-CMOS technology is investigated as possible replacement for the currently used and prospectively radiation damaged sensors by 2022.

Project Goal

In order to increase the economic value from the high developing costs, this project aims to find alternative application fields for the newly developed HV-CMOS technology and to develop a commercialization strategy for the most promising ones. The ATLAS project at the LHC is specifically looking for a corporate partner who is willing to cooperate in the further development of the technology.


This project goal was accomplished by using the Technological Competence Leveraging approach (Keinz & Prügl, 2010). According to this method the project was structured in four phases:

  1. Identification of the use benefits derived from the technological features

  2. Search for new fields of application through creativity methods and the pyramiding approach

  3. Analysis and evaluation of the possible application areas in terms of their benefit relevance and strategic fit

  4. Assembly of a commercialization strategy for the two most promising fields


From the 18 application fields that were identified by conducting more than 85 interviews, eight were presented in further detail to the project partner. The application fields such as medical x-ray, weldseam control, contaminant detection in foods or cosmic ray detection for aircrew safety were of high sectoral diversity. Two fields were chosen for further analysis.

1.    CERN’s HV-CMOS technology turned out to be of high value for the electron microscopy industry as a greater variety of fragile matters could be examined. Estimations predict a market volume for sensor in electron microscopes of up to USD 578 mn by 2017. The most important benefits of the technology for this application area are its high precision and radiation hardness.

2.    Particle/Hadron therapy is practiced in oncology for cancer treatment. The number of treatment centers is expected to triple by 2018. The newly developed HV-CMOS detectors are cost beneficial and present a solution of high precision compared to the currently used sensors.

The detailed market analysis suggests to enter the market for electron microscopy first through a project-based, nonequity venture with a sensor-producing microscope producer. This initial partnership would enable further development of the technology. A licensing contract would be set up for a long-term relation with this corporate partner.

A licensing agreement with a sensor-producing firm in the particle therapy industry, preferably one that is also building treatment centers, would be entered at a later date.

Cooperation Partner

  • ATLAS Experiment
    CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research
    CH-1211 Geneva 23

  • Contact Person
    Dr. Heinz Pernegger
    CERN Div. PH
    Bat. 301-1-001
    CH-1211 Geneva 23

Student Team

  • Simon Feigl (Early Stage Researcher, CERN)
    Sonia Fernandez (Early Stage Researcher, CERN)
    Cornelia Jakl
    Talitha Leitner
    Annabelle Mai
    Peter Mühlbauer
    Christoph Wittmann
    Johannes Zrost
    Michael Zarzer