CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

Needs about €21bn it doesn’t have and a whole lot of new science to make it feasible

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The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has signed off on an update to its particle physics strategy that calls for the construction of two new very, very, large pieces of atom-smashing hardware.

Endorsed by the CERN Council last Friday, the strategy update [PDF] suggests that the Large Hadron Collider will “remain the world’s primary tool for exploring the high-energy frontier” for about another decade. But after that we’ll need more kit if we are to continue expanding our understanding of how the universe works.

The first item on CERN’s shopping list is therefore “a new electron-positron collider operating as a ‘Higgs factory’.”

“Such a collider would produce copious Higgs bosons in a very clean environment, would make dramatic progress in mapping the diverse interactions of the Higgs boson with other particles and would form an essential part of a research programme that includes exploration of the flavour puzzle and the neutrino sector,” the document says.

But CERN wants more hardware to probe largely-unexplored issues such as the nature of dark matter and the preponderance of matter over antimatter.

To do so the organisation’s far-future wish-list now includes “a future hadron collider with sensitivity to energy scales an order of magnitude higher than those of the LHC, while addressing the associated technical and environmental challenges.”

The document envisages this collider will operate at collision energies of 100 teraelectronvolts (TeV). The current LHC limps along at just 16 TeV.

CERN discussed this collider in early 2019 when it labelled the machine the "Future Circular Collider" and envisioned completion some time around the year 2050.

The new 100 TeV collider isn't named in this new document, nor is a completion timeframe.

That could be because CERN doesn’t have the money to build any of the new stuff on its shopping list and knows the technologies to build the 100 TeV machine don’t exist either. The document therefore calls for increased R&D on high-field superconducting magnets, high-temperature superconductors, plasma wakefield acceleration tech, bright muon beams and energy recovery linacs.

The Register imagines some of our readers have advanced prototypes of most of the above under that pile of unfinished Raspberry Pi projects out in the garage.

CERN doesn’t share that confidence and the new strategy therefore calls for all manner of research to consider the above-mentioned technologies in coming years.

The strategy also calls for international collaboration and for an update to emerge in the second half of the 2020s, “when the results of the feasibility study for the future hadron collider are available and ready for decision.” ®


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