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After three years of shutdown for maintenance and planned upgrades, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator has been reignited for a new period of cutting-edge physics.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at CERN on the Franco-Swiss border, was shut down in 2018 to allow scientists and engineers around the world to make it even more powerful.
This new energy frontier will allow researchers to tackle ever more difficult questions about the laws of nature and our understanding of the building blocks of matter.
As part of the international effort, UK teams carried out a series of essential works 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 massive CMS Silicon Tracker, a detector that allows scientists to track the momentum of charged particles.
“With the start of Phase 3 at the LHC, the Brunel Particle Physics Group, having successfully obtained two major research grants from the Council for Science and Technology Facilities, looks forward to the greatest anticipation, fully prepared for the challenges and ready to exploit the opportunities that will arise in the next phase of an international collaboration that has already achieved legendary status,” said Professor 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 approximately 200 square meters, or about the size of a tennis court. Using the tracker, CERN scientists can follow the position of a particle to about 10 microns, or about the width of a human hair.
“We have been working tirelessly, during the shutdown break, on the project to upgrade our CMS experience to enable it to cope with the unprecedented 50% increase in collision rate and 4, 5% of the energy,” Professor Khan said.
“Brunel’s expertise lies in the study of unique ‘Top Physics’, 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 most important laboratories in the world enabling 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 the key role British physicists and engineers have played in the design and construction of key parts for the Large Hadron Collider experiments.
“Through our leading role in global projects of this scale, the UK is building on a role as a global scientific superpower and helping to retain the highest caliber of talented scientists in the UK.”
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