Spotlight on Quantum Science: An In-depth Conversation with Dr. Peter Švihra

Peter Švihra is a Senior Fellow at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of Quantum Science in collaboration with Amsterdam Scientific Instrument (ASI). He holds a PhD in semiconductor pixel detector technologies from the University of Manchester. His expertise earned him numerous notable awards, including the LHCb Thesis Award, and recognition in Forbes Slovakia's 30-under-30 list.

At present, Dr. Švihra is deeply involved in high-energy physics, focusing his efforts on R&D for the LHCb VELO Upgrade 2. A major component of his pioneering work centres on testing cutting-edge sensor technologies using low gain avalanche diodes, showcasing his commitment to pushing experimental physics' boundaries.

However, it's not just his individual achievements that stand out. Dr. Švihra's commitment to the scientific community is commendable. His significant role in collaborating with ASI on Quantum Science exemplifies this, making a lasting impact in the field.

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Švihra to discuss his journey, insights, and the future of Timepix3 technology:

Can you share some specific examples of experiments or applications where Phoebe: the single-photon TPX3CAM has proven to be particularly valuable or unique compared to other technologies?

“While the application space is very large and spans from molecular dynamics through time projection chambers, for me the biggest improvements come with many different experiments that were performed in the field of quantum information science. Compared to commonly used devices (which detect single photons using very few readout channels), the added value coming from the combination of precise time-stamping and spatial resolution opens doors to evaluating different parameters of quantum entanglement at the same time. The novel approach is also extremely scalable where one can achieve multivariate observations with great background subtraction efficiency.”

How do you anticipate Phoebe's future evolution and its impact on scientific research and applications?

“Pushing for the advancements in detection technologies goes hand in hand with discovering previously hidden correlations. This is the ageless question of: "which came first? the chicken or the egg?", but in the context of scientific research. I think reaching the nanosecond (and eventually better) precision with sparse data-readout will not only improve the precision of any team using normal cameras, but also drastically shorten the measurement time needed thus making the experimental phase faster. This, in turn, enables faster design turnaround and so on.”

What advice or insights would you offer to other researchers who are considering incorporating Phoebe into their work for the first time?

“Do not underestimate the need for improved and modified data processing. The technology, compared to commonly used cameras, reaches precision of the measurements at the cost of granularity in time - one needs to have a good understanding of data acquired to filter the events.”

Could you share any interesting or unexpected discoveries or observations you've made while using Timepix-3 technology that you might not have been able to make with other tools or techniques?

“The modular approach that the camera offered. Using it as a plug-and-place replacement for normal technology but having the data processing chain set up, one can very quickly look into time correlations or evolutions of any process observed. In particular I remember observing alpha particle in a time-projection chamber. By simply changing a time-cut needed for clustering of the pixel hits we could very simply identify full tracks - all of this was done within half a day of connecting the camera.”

Why did you choose to collaborate with ASI to develop software data analysis toolkits, and what are the anticipated benefits for other researchers in the field?

“First of all, it is the scientific curiosity and the drive to improve the tools we use that persuaded me. Working with the device for many years, I realised the learning curve to dive deep into the measurement and get most out of data analysis is very steep. That's why I think I can help with setting up processes that will help any new group to jump start on the analysis, without having to spend precious time understanding all of the internal processes over and over again. This will make Phoebe user-friendly on the same level as commonly available cameras while at the same time providing its superior measurement precision.”

In an ever-evolving world of technology, Dr. Švihra's expertise in Timepix3 technology stands out, shaping current research and paving the way for future breakthroughs. We are eager to continue our collaboration with Dr. Peter, looking forward to the innovations we'll achieve together.