CERN upgrade to enable increased understanding of the physical universe

Edinburgh researchers will help further the understanding of the physical universe following a major upgrade to create the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC).

The LHC, the largest science experiment on Earth, produces high-energy collisions between fundamental physical particles at close to the speed of light inside a 27km ring. Its upgrade, scheduled to be completed by 2026, aims to increase by more than five times the number of particle collisions that take place during large experiments. This increase will enable scientists to gather about 10 times more data, compared with previous experiments, in the decade following the HL-LHC start-up. Discoveries in particle physics are based on collecting large amounts of data, so a greater number of collisions increases the chance of discovering a new particle.

The upgrade will also allow further research into the Higgs boson particle, which was predicted by Professor Peter Higgs when he was a researcher at the University in the 1960s, and discovered by the CERN team in 2012. Experiments at the new LHC will enable the Higgs’ properties to be defined more accurately, and to measure with increased precision how it is produced, how it decays and how it interacts with other particles.

Professor Victoria Martin, School of Physics and Astronomy reported:

The very intense collisions between protons at the High-Luminosity LHC will allow scientists, including our team from the University of Edinburgh, to look at physics at the smallest accessible distances. This will provide a deeper understanding of what the fundamental constituents of the Universe are, how they behave, and how they build the structure of the Universe around us.

Professor Phillip Clarke, School of Physics and Astronomy commented:

The HL-LHC will allow us to use the Higgs boson as a probe for new physics. This is a new type of particle, being a spin-less boson, and it is very interesting to explore all its interactions with nature - it even self-interacts. As a researcher who specialises in the simulation of particles produced within the ATLAS detector at the LHC, I look forward to this next phase and the discoveries ahead.