After three years of shutdown for planned maintenance and upgrades, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator has been switched back on for another run of cutting-edge physics.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at CERN on the French/Swiss border, was switched off in 2018 to enable scientists and engineers from all over the world to make it even more powerful.
This new energy frontier will allow researchers to tackle ever more challenging questions about the laws of nature and our understanding of the building blocks of matter.
As part of the international effort, UK teams have led a series of vital work packages to improve the performance of each of the LHC’s four main instruments, including the iconic Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS).
Brunel University London partners with CERN in a number of areas, including the maintenance and operation of the CMS’s massive Silicon Tracker, a detector that enables scientists to track the momentum of charged particles.
"With the commencement of Run Three at the LHC, the Brunel Particle Physics Group, having successfully secured two major research grants from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, looks forward with the greatest anticipation, fully prepared to meet the challenges and ready to exploit the opportunities that will present themselves in the next phase of an international collaboration that has already achieved legendary status,” said Prof Akram Khan, Group Leader of the Brunel Particle Physics Group.
The Silicon Tracker is one of the largest silicon devices ever built, covering an area of about 200 square meters – around the size of a tennis court. Using the tracker, CERN’s scientists can track the position of a particle to within about 10 microns, or about the width of a human hair.
“We have been tirelessly striving, during the hiatus of the shutdown, on the Upgraded Project for our CMS experiment to enable it to cope with the unprecedented increase of 50 per cent in collision rate and 4.5 per cent in energy,” said Prof Khan.
“Brunel’s expertise is in the study of single ‘Top Physics’, with the associated Higgs production presenting exciting prospects for the possibility of discovering new physical processes beyond the Standard Model.”
UK Science Minister George Freeman said:“The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva is one of the world’s most important laboratories allowing scientists to understand the deepest questions of the atomic structure of our universe and the origins of human life.
“The UK is proud to have been a founding partner of CERN and of the key role UK physicists and engineers have played in designing and building vital pieces of the Large Hadron Collider's experiments.
“Through our leading role in global projects of this scale the UK is building on a role as a global science superpower and helping retain the highest calibre of talented scientists in the UK.”
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