Real-time Data Acquisition at NSCL

Graphical display of a nuclear collision. The collision was recorded with the NSCL data acquisition system. more

Experimental data acquisition in nuclear physics is event driven. Each collision of interest, such as the one in the image below, triggers the collection of data related to that collision. Since each experiment can collect different data for each collision, our data acquisition system must be very general. As data are taken, online analysis programs access them to ensure that the experiment is working properly.

NSCL is a leader in data acquisition software technology for small to mid-scale experiments. Our data acquisition system is in use by several other laboratories in the United States.

Features of our data acquisition software which distinguish it from other systems include:

  • It's easy to attach an experiment-specific program to the system.
  • It's easy to write and debug experiment specific readout and analysis software.
  • It is based on and built with open source tools, significantly reducing the cost of the system.
  • It is based on mass-market computer hardware.
  • The data analysis and visualization components have been released into the open source domain via Source Forge.
  • It is a highly distributed system, allowing many systems on the network to participate in data taking and analysis.
  • It has a low learning curve.