The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN at the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, is the largest scientific instrument ever designed and built for scientific research. It has been exploring the new high-energy frontier since 2010, attracting a global user-community of more than 7,000 scientists spanning more than 60 countries. Since March 2010, LHC has been producing proton-proton collisions with a 7 and then at 8 TeV centre-of-mass energy, a factor of 4 greater than the previous record (held by Tevatron at the Fermi National Laboratory, USA). After only a little more than one year of operation, on 4th July 2012 the LHC experiments, ATLAS and CMS, could announce the first major discovery: the long-sought Higgs boson, the cornerstone of the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. This announcement, heralded by scientists as well as by the media as a giant leap in the understanding of our world and the origin of universe.
In order to further increase its discovery potential beyond 2020, LHC would eventually need an upgrade to increase the total number of collisions by a factor of 10. A more powerful LHC would provide more accurate measurements of new particles and enable observation of rare processes that occur below the current sensitivity level. This would make it possible to detect rare events not previously witnessed, and increase our understanding of the energy frontier. How this should be done is at the heart of the High Luminosity LHC project, of which the first phase is supported in part by funding from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission, the HiLumi LHC Design Study.
High Luminosity LHC Project Organization Chart
With the upgrade, the LHC will push the limits of human knowledge, enabling physicists to go beyond the Standard Model and its Higgs boson: for example the mysterious dark matter and the world of supersymmetry are just among the long-awaited mysteries that the LHC will unveil. Thanks to the LHC, Europe has decisively regained world leadership in High Energy Physics, a key sector of knowledge and technology. The LHC can act as catalyst for a global effort unrivalled by other branches of science, as signified by the fact that some critical components of the accelerator have been primarily developed by the US program LARP.
But upgrading such a large scale, complex piece of machinery is a challenging procedure that will take a decade to complete. The process hinges on a number of innovative technologies, which the HiLumi LHC Design Study is exploring. This extraordinary technical enterprise will rely on a combination of cutting-edge 11-13T superconducting magnets, compact and ultraprecise superconducting radio-frequency cavities for beam rotation, as well as 300-m-long, high-power superconducting links with zero energy dissipation. In addition, the higher luminosities will make new demands on vacuum, cryogenics and machine protection, and will require new concepts for collimation and diagnostics, advanced modelling for the intense beam and novel schemes of beam crossing to maximize the physics output of the collisions.
Now, with the Long Shutdown 1, preparation work for this major upgrade is gathering speed.