The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the new project being developed at CERN in Geneva. The project is a modification on the current LEP experiments and will use facilities already present.

Why is LHC needed? LEP is sensitive to phenomena occurring at greater energies than the LEP equipment can handle. The LHC has been designed to collide particles at higher energies and therefore make new discoveries that the LEP can only hint at. Evidence gathered in recent years suggests that new physics and answers to some of the most profound questions of our time may lie at energies of around 1 TeV.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will replace LEP, in keeping with CERN's cost-effective strategy of building on previous investments. It is designed to use the 27 kilometre LEP tunnel, and be fed by existing particle sources and pre-accelerators. The LHC will use the most advanced superconducting magnet and accelerator technologies ever employed and when completed, will represent a total cost of nearly $6 billion. The LHC, currently under construction will simulate certain conditions that prevailed in the universe at the earliest moments of the "Big Bang".

The LHC will investigate the basic structure of matter. The 27 kilometre circumference accelerator and associated detectors will become the centrepiece of the CERN research program when they come into operation in 2005. Two detectors, ATLAS and CMS, will record the interactions created by colliding proton beams at an energy of up to 14 TeV, and are already at an advanced stage of development. The LHC will not be limited to the study of proton-proton collisions as it can also collide heavy ions, such as le ad. This will produce a total energy of 1148 TeV, about thirty times higher than at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) under construction at the Brookhaven Laboratory in the US. Joint LHC/LEP operation can supply proton-electron collisions with 1. 5 TeV energy, five times higher than presently available at HERA in the DESY laboratory, Germany, opening up another field of research. The research, technical and educational potential of the LHC and its experiments is enormous. The wide range of physics possibilities will enable LHC to retain its unique place on the frontiers of physics research well into the next century.

Many companies are already partnering CERN in research and development to build the LHC machine and its particle detectors. European industry faces stimulating challenges in many fields such as superconductivity, ultra high vacuum and ultra low temperatur es.

The LHC supermagnets and cooling system

The Higgs Boson