The Large Hadron Collider is getting an upgrade

The improvements will allow for collisions at a higher rate in the underground accelerator


LEVEL UP  Scientists are developing equipment to upgrade the Large Hadron Collider (shown). The first stage of construction for the upgrade began June 15.

Maximilien Brice and Julien Marius Ordan

Smashing together a billion protons a second wasn’t enough for the Large Hadron Collider.

The particle accelerator, located at CERN in Geneva, is getting spiffed up to allow it to carry out collisions at an even faster rate. On June 15, scientists announced the start of construction for an LHC upgrade called the High-Luminosity LHC.

The upgrade will boost the collision rate by at least a factor of five. That increase should beef up the LHC’s ability to search for new particles and to study the Higgs boson, the particle that the LHC detected in 2012.

The first stage of construction involves establishing new buildings, shafts and caverns to house equipment. Eventually, scientists will begin replacing equipment inside the accelerator, including the magnets that focus and steer the beams of particles. The plan is for the HL-LHC to be in business by 2026.

Physics writer Emily Conover has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. She is a two-time winner of the D.C. Science Writers’ Association Newsbrief award.

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