LCS Laboratory for Control Systems

 The Laboratory for Control Systems is oriented toward research and deployment of new solutions in control systems. Our main activities are time-critical networks (looking to achieve better synchronization and data transfer throughput on standard network solutions), control systems for large experimental infrastructure (example is ITER, a first experimental fusion reactor where scientist will discover fusion opportunities for energy production), and control systems for cancer therapy using particles (medical accelerators control based on medical safety standards).

Our most important conceptual improvements that we would like to continue developing intensively in the future and that we would like to share them also with other institutions are:

  • Real-time synchronized data transfer over a standard Ethernet network (to achieve better redundancy and deterministic behaviour)
  • Machine protection systems (these are systems for protecting devices against interferences in the system)
  • A control system platform with FPGA support (hard-real time control platform with nanosecond resolution with enabling signal processing, transmission protocols, and easy connection with the input-output units features)

Our laboratory works with all well known widely used control platforms such us VME, PXI and cPCI as well as newly high performance platforms such as uTCA.

Finished projects

Time Critical Networks (TCN)

The goal of this project was to analyze and evaluate network solutions that allow hard real-time communication. Such networks are of crucial importance when applied to the control systems of large complex systems, where responsiveness in hard real-time is mandatory, such as implementing control loops in large experimental physics facilities, as well as in advanced process automatization in industry where we see another potential for implementation of our technologies in the future.

We achieved the possibility of combining off-the-shelf Ethernet components with our innovative routing schemes to design a real-time network, which is the basis of our new technology: a real-time UDP (User Datagram Protocol) stack that allows the UDP to be used in specific real-time applications. Additionally with the same transfer technology we worked on implementation of Reflective Memory over Ethernet for the purpose to be used as a fast real-time data exchange network for distributed system. We have prototyped these technologies for testing high performances of various types of networks.

 

Control Systems for large Experimental Infrastructures (CSEI)

The project mission was adaptation of open-source control system (widely used for particle accelerators, such as EPICS) to improve applications in other experimental infrastructures that are several orders of magnitude more complex and demanding.

We produced a new innovative method of packaging software for installation in new large complex experimental systems. In addition, we recommended using two new concepts to aid the development of highly complex control systems from several vendors. First is control box named concept for better and easier standardization of hardware components and software platforms. Second concept was continuous integration tools for concurrent development on large and complex applications. All those techniques are important tools to build any large experimental control systems in the future where hundreds of different project partners contribute a part of control system, usually coming from all over the world. One of our important result which we are proud of is COBIK version CSS (Control System Studio). CSS was built as joint development by DESY, ORNL and BNL and it has been identified as the preferred COBIK platform for developing and running operator graphical user interfaces and related services for accelerators and comparable large experiments. COBIK CSS branch has been created to fix some scalability issues and add support for MS SQL support.

Control Systems for Cancer Therapy using particles (CSCT)

We worked on this project to adapt existing control systems from the world of large experimental physics to make them ready on medical safety standards. We want to cover all the layers of control system, including software and hardware. Our researchers work with development techniques on fast programmable real-time logic (FPGA) for medical applications. We made a prototype of the main timing systems with nanosecond resolution to control magnets power supply in medical accelerators. In our development processes we implemented an innovative approach that combines requirements for modeling and risk analysis what is essential in the development of medical devices. One of our research results inclined us to use tree topology for Machine Protection Systems which is fast and configurable interlock system to prevent faults and interferences that can harm system with microsecond response time.

We also developed several software tools to build VHDL applications for FPGA platforms much quicker and with higher quality control level. We further developed a versatile FPGA platform for fast prototyping and easy systems test including our own fiber optics real-time communication protocols. One of our important results we made are components optimized control board build according to medical standards.

  

Contact: info@cobik.si, 00386 05 8500893

 

 


Head of Laboratory:

Robert Jeraj, PhD

Deputy Head of Laboratory:

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