UH Physics Prof. Gary Varner has received the 2016 DPF Instrumentation Award

Gary Varner and IDL members
Professor Gary Varner (center) with the IDL (Instrument Development Lab) team at Watanabe Hall at the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa

The Division of Particle and Fields (DPF) of the American Physical Society has honored University of Hawai’i at Manoa Physics Professor Gary Varner with the 2016 Instrumentation Award for Experimental Particle Physics.

The award citation reads “For the development of technologies for detection of signals in frontier experiments, especially [the fully depleted charge coupled device] and the ‘oscilloscope on a chip’ integrated circuit.”

This is the second DPF instrumentation award. Prof. Varner shares the award with Dr. Stephen Holland (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). Last year’s award went to Prof. David Nygren (University of Texas at Arlington) and Dr. Veljko Radeka (Brookhaven National Laboratory).

The 2016 DPF Instrumentation Award recognizes Gary Varner’s development of state of the art “oscilloscope on a chip” ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) and associated readout systems, which have had considerable impact on experiments in high energy and astroparticle physics.

Professor Varner’s readout systems play a critical role in the Belle II experiment located at the KEK laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan. In particular, his IRSX ASIC readout chip, which has a timing resolution of below 50 picoseconds is the basis of the readout system for the Cerenkov particle identification system called the iTOP (imaging Time Of Propagation) detector. Gary Varner not only developed the readout ASIC matched to the pixelated photosensors of the device but the full readout system and the methods for calibration. He also designed and built the TARGETX waveform sampling ASIC, which is the basis of the readout system for the Belle II KLM (K-long and
muon) system.

It is quite remarkable that in addition to his critical contributions to accelerator based experiments, Professor Varner has also developed readout systems based on his fast deep pipeline multi- channel oscilloscopes on a chipfor the ANITA astroparticle missions and for a variety of other experiments (such as the UH-led TimeCube experiment). In all these cases, his contributions were critical to the success of the experiments and the physics results.

In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Professor Varner has mentored and trained an entire generation of graduate students, postdocs and engineers. This is a critical contribution to the entire field of high energy physics.

Varner received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Boston University (BU), a master’s degree from BU in Physics and a Phd in Physics from the University of Hawai’i. He has worked in academia and industry. He was appointed as assistant professor of physics at UH Manoa in 2005 and was promoted to the full professor rank in 2015. While at UH, he received three DOE (Department of Energy) ADR (Advanced Detector Research) awards and a large number of external grants.

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