UK experts are participating in a £26m project to upgrade the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN and increase particle collisions by a factor of 10.
The High Luminosity LHC project (HL-LHC) will allow physicists to learn more about the properties of the Higgs Boson and look for evidence of Dark Matter.
The project is led by Manchester University, alongside a collaboration of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), CERN, the Cockcroft Institute, the John Adams Institute, and eight other UK Universities.
Phase two of the UK project, called HL-LHC-UK2, will deliver hardware to the upgraded collider, with many parts expected to be sourced from the UK.
“This is a significant undertaking, yet one with fantastic benefits for the UK,” said Prof. Mark Thomson, particle physicist and Executive Chair of STFC. “The aim is for this project to involve UK industry at every stage, with specialist companies being invited to bid for contracts to manufacture high-tech components for the Large Hadron Collider.”
Phase two will also deliver supporting simulations for the LHC upgrade in five areas. These include studies into the dynamics of high-intensity and high-energy proton beams, the development of novel diagnostics to measure the beam’s properties, as well as R&D into so-called ‘crab cavities’ that enable the LHC’s particle beams to be angled, increasing the opportunity for collisions.
For its part, Manchester University will perform calculations and simulation of the motion of protons in the Large Hadron Collider, to deepen understanding of the upgraded machine and improve its performance.
“When researchers want to upgrade the LHC, scientists need to simulate how the proton beam is going to respond and move,” said project spokesperson Professor Rob Appleby. “This helps the researchers understand the beam and design the hardware needed for the upgrade. A second part of the work is being done by Manchester and involves studying billions of protons in the LHC for millions of turns of the machine, including what happens when beams collide.”
According to Manchester University, visible matter makes up five per cent of our Universe. The remaining 95 per cent is thought to be Dark Matter (27 per cent) and Dark Energy (68 per cent) but physicists have not yet detected either. It is hoped that the increased luminosity of HL-LHC will enable researchers to find clues that could solve the mystery of Dark Matter.