Gabriella Azzopardi is a final year Ph.D. student in Computer Engineering based at CERN. She is a Research Support Officer with the Department of Communications and Computer Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Gianluca Valentino and Prof. Adrian Muscat from UM and Dr. Belen Maria Salvachua Ferrando from CERN.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is the world’s particle accelerator, with a circumference of 27km. It accelerates and collides two counter-rotating beams at 6.5 TeV. The LHC is susceptible to beam losses which can damage the magnets and other sensitive equipment. Therefore a robust collimation system of 100 collimators is used to safely dispose of such beam losses.
A collimator is made up of two jaws placed symmetrically around the beam. To achieve high beam cleaning performance the LHC collimators need to be positioned precisely around the beam, by aligning them regularly. Gabriella’s PhD fully-automates this alignment of the collimators, using machine learning and other forms of data analysis. Her implementation for fully-automating the alignment successfully decreased the alignment time by 70% and requires minimal human intervention.
In May 2019, Gabriella had the opportunity to present the results of her PhD at the 10th International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC) in Melbourne, Australia. This year over 1000 delegates from all over the world attended the conference held 19th-24th May. Gabriella was allocated 15 minutes to give an overview of the latest alignment software and the results achieved. Her work was well received by a number of physicists who are also seeking to apply machine learning for various tasks.