Philip von Doetinchem
Assistant professor

Physics & Astronomy Department (Wat 430)
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Phone: +1-808-956-3719
Time in Honolulu:
GAPS - General AntiParticle Spectrometer

The GAPS experiment is foreseen to search for low-energy cosmic-ray antideuterons (<0.3GeV/n) using a novel detection approach. GAPS is designed to achieve its goals via a series of long duration balloon flights at high altitude in Antarctica. The detector itself will consist of 10 planes of Si(Li) solid state detectors and a time-of-flight system. Antideuterons will be slowed down in the Si(Li) material, replace a shell electron and form an excited exotic atom. The atom will be deexcited by characteristic X-ray transitions and will end its life by the formation of an annihilation pion star. This unique event structure will deliver a nearly background free detection possibility.

To prove the performance of the different detector components at stratospheric altitudes, a prototype flight (pGAPS) was conducted in June 2012. This flight was also important to understand the particle and X-ray backgrounds that will influence the final GAPS design. Ballooning offers the chance to be involved in many aspects and I had the chance to contribute on all different levels to the success of the flight: flight and ground software, Si(Li) electronics, payload integration, flight operation, and data analysis.

NASA approved funding for the construction of the full payload in 2016. The Hawaii group is going to coordinate the simulation tools and analysis pipeline development as well as qualifiy and calibrate 50% of the individual Si(Li) detectors.

This is a time-lapse movie taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera onboard the pGAPS flight on June 3rd, 2012 in Taiki, Japan

Philip von Doetinchem - 2015