Future LHC super-magnets pass muster
||Scientists in the US LHC Accelerator Research Program have successfully tested superconducting magnets needed to increase LHC collisions tenfold. Image courtesy of Dan Cheng, Helene Felice
In the past four years, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have accomplished unprecedented feats of physics, all with their particle accelerator working at half its design capacity.
The future is looking even brighter, literally.
Last week the US LHC Accelerator Research Program, or LARP, successfully tested a new type of magnet required to boost the power of the LHC—or the luminosity of its particle beams—by a factor of 10.
LARP is a collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Berkeley and SLAC national laboratories, working in partnership with CERN.
The improved magnets are one of the most critical components in a series of LHC upgrades that will be implemented over the next 10 years. In the accelerator, magnets squeeze and focus beams of charged particles, directing them to a point of high-energy collision inside a detector. The new magnets, along with other upgrades, will allow the LHC to collect a larger amount of data at higher energies, making it possible to search for more massive, potentially hidden particles than ever before.
Lucio Rossi, leader of the high-luminosity project at CERN, says the improved LHC could illuminate unexplored corners of physics.
If you enter a dark room with only a candle, the room will be dim, and the candle will soon burn out, he says. But if you have a high-powered flashlight, not only can you see more of the room, but you also have enough time to get a good look around.
"Thanks to this magnet, we will have more collisions, more statistics and more rare events," Rossi says. "If there is physics beyond the Standard Model, these magnets will shed light on it."