A new hugely powerful accelerator magnet has been created

8 Apr 2016

A High-Luminosity LHC coil, via Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

The next Large Hadron Collider (LHC) iteration is set to be quite the magnetic force, with a new project resulting in the strongest accelerator magnets ever being created.

Researchers in the US and CERN have teamed up to produce 20 new accelerator magnets, which, when put together into the next LHC in 2026, will up its power by a factor of ten.

The partnership between the US’ LHC accelerator research programme (LARP) and CERN saw 10 magnets developed each side of the Atlantic, each model being 1.5 metres long.

In total, the magnets will replace about 5pc of the LHC’s focusing and steering magnets when installed, which will increase both the number, and density, of protons squashed into the accelerator.

“Building this magnet prototype was truly an international effort,” said CERN’s Lucio Rossi in Symmetry, a publication produced by Fermilab, the US arm of the project. “Half the magnetic coils inside the prototype were produced at CERN, and half at laboratories in the United States.”

The project was planned since the original LHC was built, with researchers always knowing the power needed to be upped to continue pushing scientific boundaries.

Large Hadron Collider magnet proton

A High-Luminosity LHC coil, via Reidar Hahn, Fermilab

Last year, the LHC was restarted after a two-year hiatus, at that stage introducing a higher force of energy for its physical collisions.

Operating at ‘just’ eight trillion electron volts (TeV) in its first iteration, LHC just finished tuning the force in for its official, non-test 13 TeV collision at the start of June.

The LHC spent several years investigating the results of smashing particles together at frightening speed with its 27km-long ring, situated underground on the border between France and Switzerland.

It’s an incredibly expensive and valuable physics project, basically searching for dark matter, which is that thing in space that nobody knows much about.

Upping accelerator magnets to the power of 10 in what will be called the new High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) would, therefore, increase what data scientists can attain from the Switzerland-based project.

“We’re dealing with a new technology that can achieve far beyond what was possible when the LHC was first constructed,” said Giorgio Apollinari of Fermilab.

“This new magnet technology will make the HL-LHC project possible and empower physicists to think about future applications of this technology in the field of accelerators.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic