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In addition to some great new features on the electronics part searchin’ Octopart (PDF, project saving, sharing and more) – they’ve started posting hardware stories – check’em out…

Like many particle physics experiments, ATLAS is a collection of several concentric cylinders, each cylinder being a different detector technology. At the center of all the cylinders two very high energy beams of protons are brought into collision; it’s then the job of the different detectors to give some clue as to what just happened by measuring the trajectories of the particles that were produced. The inner cylinders can make very precise measurements of where a particle crosses it, but are also very expensive to build per unit area. The outer cylinders are cheaper per unit area to build, but not as precise. The pixel detector – what I work on – is the inner most layer. It’s taken many hundreds of man years to get to where we are now, and all for an active area of less than 1 1/2 square meters….

Blog – Octopart – Link.