14 July 2008

Ferdinand Hahn

Nationality: German

Ferdi Hahn

Ferdinand Hahn may not be strictly ATLAS, but his work on gas systems is vital to all four experiments.

He’s been involved at CERN since 1987, when Professor Drees at Wuppertal University in Germany offered him a chance to work on the DELPHI RICH detector. “I was doing measurements on the photon detector which was converting Cherenkov photons into single photo-electrons,” says Ferdi. “This was very challenging and quite novel at the time.” He was offered a CERN fellowship and participated on various other hardware systems in DELPHI. 

After his PhD, also through Wuppertal University, he joined the DELPHI gas team as a member of the CERN staff. The team handled the experiment’s 12 gas systems, 11 of which employed flammable gas mixtures.

“The DELPHI gas group, under the leadership of Robin Brown, was a strong and experienced team, and it was natural that we were at the origin of the future LHC gas project,” says Ferdi. Later on, he took the helm of a working group. He spent the last eight years designing, building, installing, and commissioning the gas systems that have started to operate this year.

Since mid-2007, his colleague Stefan Haider has taken over this work as Ferdi moved to a broader management position. Although he still spends much of his time commissioning the gas systems, he is now the leader of the detector infrastructure section within the detector technology group, as well as deputy leader of the detector technology group.

“Detector technology is a mechanical support group,” Ferdi explains, “and we’re working for the five LHC experiments, building detectors, making services, and making anything that has a common interest for more than one experiment.”

For example, the CMS and ATLAS magnet systems may seem wildly different – one large solenoid versus an eight loop toroid with two endcaps, with a smaller solenoid just outside the trackers. However, underlying systems, such as magnet control and safety, are similar enough that it makes sense to base them on a common design.

Ferdi doesn’t have much time for hobbies. “The time outside work I try to dedicate to my family,” he says. Making sure his fifteen-year-old son does his homework is a challenge in itself. “Skateboarding is the most important thing to him now, much more important than schoolwork,” he laments.

Even so, the recent football games of Euro 2008 provided an exciting diversion. He cheered on the Dutch and Spanish teams when he wasn’t rooting for his own country, which made the finals particularly interesting. Ferdi harbours no bitterness at the outcome: “At the end, we opened the champagne to celebrate the victory of Spain. They were so much better...”

The Alps and Jura offer him another possibility for relaxation, as he enjoys hiking in the mountains with his wife. The weather this spring was too rainy for his taste, but he has taken advantage of the sunny spells in the last couple weeks to walk up the Salève. “The Salève is an excellent divertissement for us,” he says. “We can start walking up from our house which is just at the foot of the mountain.”


    Katie McAlpine

    ATLAS e-News