CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has expanded our understanding of fundamental physics significantly thanks to the discovery of the Higgs boson. It's also increased the precision of our observations, but while the LHC still has so much to give, physicists have started thinking about the next big thing, and it's called the Future Circular Collider (FCC).
The Conceptual Design Report of the ambitious project has been released and it combines the work of 1,300 collaborators from 150 universities, research institutes, and industrial partners to deliver a series of concepts for what the FCC might look like. The accelerator is envisioned to be 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, almost four times longer than the LHC.
The team estimates a 10-fold increase in the energy of particle collisions. This would allow us to study the interaction between the Higgs boson and other Higgs particles, helping us to understand the behavior of matter in the early universe through ion collisions and even look for new massive particles at higher energies. The FCC will help us put the standard model of particle physics to its strictest tests yet.
“The FCC conceptual design report is a remarkable accomplishment. It shows the tremendous potential of the FCC to improve our knowledge of fundamental physics and to advance many technologies with a broad impact on society,” CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti said in a statement. “While presenting new, daunting challenges, the FCC would greatly benefit from CERN’s expertise, accelerator complex, and infrastructures, which have been developed over more than half a century.”
The current plan will be discussed in the context of the European Strategy for Particle Physics alongside other proposals such as the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC). The current proposal will see the construction of the tunnel and a positron-electron collider, potentially beginning by 2040. This collider will serve the particle community for 15 to 20 years, after which a proton collider will be installed in the tunnel.
“Proton colliders have been the tool of choice for generations to venture new physics at the smallest scale," said CERN Director for Research and Computing, Eckhard Elsen. "A large proton collider would present a leap forward in this exploration and decisively extend the physics programme beyond results provided by the LHC and a possible electron-positron collider.”
The full proposal is contained in four volumes and took five years to complete. It received the strong support of the European Commission through its Horizon 2020 program.