Institute for Nuclear Physics (IKP)


ERC Starting Grant - Digital Radio Detectors for Galactic PeV Particles
Prototype station of the surface array at the South Pole.
Installation of a prototype antenna in 2019.

IceTop, the cosmic-ray surface array of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, is forseen to be enhanced to increase its accuracy and aperture. As part of this project, radio antennas shall be installed in addition to a planned upgrade with scintillation detectors. By adding the radio antennas, the accuracy will be further improved and the sky coverage increased such that the Galactic Center will be in the field of view. Using an optimized frequency band for the radio detection of atmospheric particle cascades (air showers), we expect to significantly lower the threshold of the radio technique for cosmic particles down to the PeV range. This will enable the search for PeV photons from the Galactic Center as an exciting science case next to better measurements of the mass composition of Galactic Cosmic Rays. This progress in instrumentation aims at understanding the yet unknown origin of the most energetic particles in our Galaxy. Depending on what these undiscovered sources are, we will have a chance to reveal the most powerful natural accelerator in our Milky Way.

The work of this project is done in collaboration with the IceCube group at the institute which has a leading involvement in the upgrade of the surface array by scintillators. As first step towards the realization of the radio enhancement, two antennas of the SKALA type developed for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) were installed at the South Pole at the existing prototype station for the scintillator upgrade early 2019 (see photo).


Open Positions:

  • PhD student – starting in summer/fall 2020
  • Master and Bachelor students are welcome anytime!

Please contact the project leader via email for further information:


Publications of this Project:
(partly or fully funded by the ERC Starting Grant PeV-Radio)

Science Case of a Scintillator and Radio Surface Array at IceCube, Frank G. Schröder for the IceCube Collaboration, Proc. of the 36th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC 2019), Madison, Wisconsin, USA, PoS(ICRC2019)418


Selected Publications Related about the Idea and Prototype Studies of the Project:

Physics Potential of a Radio Surface Array at the South Pole, Frank G. Schröder for the IceCube-Gen2 Collaboration, Proc. of ARENA 2018, Catania, Italy, EPJ WoC 216 (2019) 01007, doi:

Search for PeVatrons at the Galactic Center using a radio air-shower array at the South Pole,
Balagopal V., A., Haungs, A., Huege, T. et al. Eur. Phys. J. C (2018) 78: 111.


Public Announcements Related to the Project:


Project Manager

Prof. Dr. Frank G. Schröder
(Assist. Prof., Univ. of Delaware, USA)

Frank Schröder leads the ERC project PeV Radio as scientist at the Institute of Nuclear Physics at KIT Campus North. He also has a faculty position at the University of Delaware.



Project Funding


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC)
under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
(grant agreement No 802729).