The Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship @ Science Park, located just like Nikhef at the Science Park in Amsterdam, asked its students to write various business plans to find a suitable application for RASNIK in the market. This led to the founding of Sensiflex as a spin-off company of Nikhef. Sensiflex develops measuring equipment to register minimum subsidence of building constructions, for example. This revolutionary system can be produced more cheaply by Sensiflex than similar products from other companies. Furthermore, it provides more accurate measurements (to an accuracy of one micrometer in three dimensions) and is compacter. With this product, Sensiflex expects a genuine revolution within this market. Recently an applied test phase in the Rotterdam metro tunnel was successfully completed in collaboration with Fugro. Fugro is Sensiflex’s first client and on 30 June 2010 the first four RASNIK systems were installed in the Weena Tunnel in Rotterdam.
Nikhef developed the RASNIK system in the 1990s to continuously and accurately measure the position of detector parts in the ATLAS experiment. ATLAS is one of the four large experiments in the new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. In the ATLAS experiment, the energy of particles is determined from the deflection of the measured particle tracks. This deflection is measured at three points along the particles track by installing sensitive detectors. This method requires an extremely precise knowledge of the positioning of the detectors. This is exactly what Nikhef’s RASNIK system supplies. This is realised by placing a lens on the middle detector, a pixel video sensor on the outer detector, and an object in the form of an illuminated coded mask on the inner detector. In this system, the lens projects a sharp image of the mask on the video sensor. If the middle detector moves then the image on the sensor moves as well. Registering this shift provides data about the alignment of the detectors. This enables the deflection of a particle track to be accurately determined. Over the past three years CERN has already used 8000 RASNIK systems successfully.
The National institute for subatomic physics (Nikhef) carries out research in the field of particle physics. Nikhef is a partnership between the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and four universities: Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and VU University of Amsterdam. Nikhef is located at Science Park Amsterdam.
Willem Dorresteijn, director Sensiflex, www.sensiflex.eu, telephone +31 (0)20 525 78 88
Vanessa Mexner, Science communication officer Nikhef, www.nikhef.nl, telephone +31 (0)20 592 50 75