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Upgrade to Large Hadron Collider underway

11 September 2020

Scientists, engineers and technicians from the UK have embarked on a £26 million project to help upgrade the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, on the French/Swiss border near Geneva.

The collaboration is between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), CERN, the Cockcroft Institute, the John Adams Institute, and eight UK universities. STFC is contributing £13.05 million.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“Ever since it first switched on in 2008, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has been working to answer some of the most fundamental questions of the universe.

 “I am delighted that the UK’s science and research industry will play a central role in upgrading what is the world’s largest and highest energy particle collider, enabling leading physicists to continue making monumental discoveries.”

New particle physics

CERN’s High Luminosity LHC project (HL-LHC), a large international collaboration, will deliver cutting-edge research and essential components over the next few years.

It will upgrade the LHC by increasing the number of particle collisions by a factor of 10.

This will allow enable scientists to look for new, very rare fundamental particles, and to measure known particles like the Higgs boson with unprecedented accuracy.

UK industry involvement

Phase two of the UK project, called HL-LHC-UK2, is focused on delivering essential hardware to the upgraded collider, with many parts expected to come from UK industry.

Essential hardware and project management will be provided by STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory in the Liverpool City Region, in partnership with other project partners and UK industry.

Professor Mark Thomson, particle physicist and Executive Chair of STFC said:

“This is a significant undertaking, yet one with fantastic benefits for the UK. 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.”

Beyond visible matter

Visible matter (you, what you see around you, and all the stars and planets in space) makes up just 5% of our Universe. 

The remaining 95% is thought to be dark matter (27%) and dark energy (68%) 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.  

Eight UK Universities

The universities involved in the consortium are the University of Dundee, University of Huddersfield,  Lancaster University, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Royal Holloway and the University of Southampton.

The lead partner in the collaboration is the University of Manchester. STFC is responsible for the Project Management and Lancaster University provides the technical co-ordination of the project.

Further information

The UK project will deliver research and development of hardware and supporting simulations to the LHC upgrade in five areas:

  1. Beam dynamics - The dynamics of high intensity and high energy proton beams, using mathematics and computers. (Led by Manchester University, with Royal Holloway (RHUL), Huddersfield and Oxford Universities)
  2. Crab Cavities - The development and manufacture of cryomodules to house transverse deflecting cavities, known as crab cavities, which operate at minus 271°C. (The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory and Lancaster University)
  3. Beam Diagnostics - The development of novel beam diagnostics to measure the beam properties. (Royal Holloway University (RHUL), Liverpool University and Oxford University)
  4. Cold Powering - The delivery of sophisticated cold powering solutions, which allow for the transfer of electrical power from the earth’s surface and at room temperature to the LHC which is 100 meters below ground and working at below minus 269°C (University of Southampton)
  5. Laser Engineered Surface Structures - In-situ laser treatment of the accelerator beam screens to prevent unwanted particles from being released into the machine which can severely impact on performance. (University of Dundee).

Last updated: 11 September 2020


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