CERN particle accelerator that will breathe new life into physics

CERN particle accelerator that will breathe new life into physics

A brand new sort of collider, referred to as plasma wake-field accelerators, can research basic physics in new methods, doing one thing the Massive Hadron Collider cannot: colliding electrons.


February 21, 2023

Penalties of proton collisions absorbed by screens on the LHC

Fichet, Jacques Herve/CERN

TO GO TO Edda Gschwendtner’s experiment, you enter a small, brutalist constructing at CERN, Europe’s particle physics laboratory on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland. You’re taking the elevator and descend right into a 50 meter broad underground chamber. After a collection of yellow safety gates, you need to journey a kilometer alongside a downward sloping tunnel – so Gschwendtner often drives one of many small white bikes parked contained in the gates.

He is growing a promising sort of particle accelerator that might assist us discover new physics. For the reason that discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, particle physics has not superior sufficient to talk of. So ideas flip to machines that may assist us discover actuality in numerous methods.

The experiment Gschwendtner is engaged on, referred to as AWAKE, creates a plasma wave, a fuel of charged particles, and sends electrons hovering over it. Whereas most colliders are getting bigger and dearer, this underground machine and comparable referred to as plasma wake discipline accelerators are compact. Do not be fooled by their dimension although – they pack a punch. In comparison with CERN’s large Massive Hadron Collider (LHC) counterparts, at a distance, plasma wake discipline know-how can deal with a lot stronger accelerations. “1000 instances extra,” says Gschwendtner.

It’s proving to be efficient. AWAKE has had various successes over the previous few years in accelerating electrons over a distance of just some meters. It handed a vital check final 12 months, and researchers are actually making ready to take it to greater energies. …

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