The world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, CERN's Large Hadron Collider, is getting a major upgrade. The work, which started on Friday, involves heavy civil engineering works at the two main sites of LHC in Switzerland and France.
The LHC smashes particles together at high speed to see how particles react and understand the fundamental laws of nature. The LHC upgrade called the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) will increase the number of particle collision inside the LHC by five-fold.
The project will add and replace hardware to make collisions more likely and these would include installing new types of powerful magnets that can focus particle beams into a smaller area within four detection points.
The power lines and machine protection that shields the instruments against potential damage from stray particles will also be upgraded. New buildings, caverns, shaft, and underground facilities will also get an upgrade.
The aim of the upgrade is to boost the amount of data that can be picked up by the LHC. The particle smasher is capable of producing up to 1 billion proton-proton collisions per second, but the upgrade will increase this number, which physicists call "luminosity," by a factor of between five and seven.
The improvement would allow accumulation of about 10 times more data, which would help scientists observe rarer physical phenomena and make more accurate measurements.
"It's tremendously exciting to see the HL-LHC project gathering pace," said Gavin Davies, principal investigator for CMS experiment at the LHC. "The much larger data sets that it will make available will allow us to take our understanding of the subatomic world to the next level - helping elucidate some of the deepest mysteries of the universe."
The LHC helped discover the Higgs boson in 2012. The discovery of the long-elusive particle, which helped scientists better understand how particles acquire their mass, was considered as among the greatest scientific discoveries in recent years.
Two experiments at the LHC have recently measured the direct interaction of the Higgs boson and top quark. The two are the heaviest elementary particles of the Standard Model.
The HL-LHC upgrade will allow physicists to define the properties of the Higgs boson more accurately, and improve precision in measuring how the particle is produced, decays and how it interacts with other particles.
Standard Model Of Particle Physics
The upgrade will also allow scientists to explore scenarios beyond the Standard Model. which include supersymmetry (SUSY), as well as theories about quark substructure and extra dimensions.