Phase two of UK project to upgrade the Large Hadron Collider now underway

The image shows the cryomodule jointly designed and manufactured by CERN and the UK to demonstrate the World’s first crabbing of a proton beam © CERN
The image shows the cryomodule jointly designed and manufactured by CERN and the UK to demonstrate the World’s first crabbing of a proton beam.

Scientists, engineers and technicians from the UK have embarked on a £26M 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 including Lancaster University.

CERN’s High Luminosity LHC project (HL-LHC), a large international collaboration, will upgrade the LHC by increasing the number of particle collisions by a factor of 10, allowing physicists to learn more about the properties of the Higgs boson.

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 Graeme Burt of Lancaster University’s Department of Engineering and the Cockcroft Institute is managing the technical co-ordination of the project.

He said: “The UK plays a major part in the scientific exploitation of the LHC and so it’s great to see the UK accelerator institutes taking a major role in the upgrade engineering project, and also providing opportunities to involve UK industry.”

Professor Mark Thomson, particle physicist and Executive Chair of STFC, is keen to ensure that the project helps to develop the UK’s knowledge economy and 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 for the Large Hadron Collider.”

Phase two of the UK project will deliver the final hardware and supporting simulations for the LHC upgrade in five crucial areas:

1. 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. The development and manufacture of cryomodules to house transverse deflecting cavities, known as crab cavities, which operate at -271°C. Lancaster will be involved in the production and testing of these cryomodules, and are responsible for the outer vacuum vessel. (STFC Daresbury Laboratory and Lancaster University)

3. The development of novel beam diagnostics to measure the beam properties. (Royal Holloway University (RHUL), Liverpool University and Oxford University)

4. 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 -269°C. (Southampton University)

5. In-situ laser treatment of the accelerator beam screens to prevent unwanted particles from being released into the machine, which can severely affect performance. (University of Dundee).

The first phase of the project saw Lancaster University and STFC develop and deliver equipment to allow the World’s first demonstration of highly innovative ‘crab cavities’. These enable the LHC’s particle beams to be angled, to increase the opportunity for collisions, along with many other machine upgrades and studies.

Spokesperson for the HL-LHC-UK2 project Professor Rob Appleby, from the University of Manchester and Cockcroft Institute, said: “The HL-LHC-UK2 project gives the UK a leading position in high-luminosity collider science and will significantly improve the ability of the Large Hadron Collider to enable new discoveries in the frontier of physics.”

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.

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.

The project is funded through various contributions to a total value of £26.6million, with £13.05 million direct funding provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). £11.15 million funding is provided by CERN and the remainder from the Cockcroft Institute, John Adams Accelerator Institute and university contributions.

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