China is planning to build an enormous particle accelerator twice the size and seven times as powerful as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, according to state media reports. According to China Daily, the new facility will be capable of producing millions of Higgs boson particles - a great deal more than the Large Hadron Collider which originally discovered the ‘God particle’ back in 2012.
"We have completed the initial conceptual design and organized international peer review recently, and the final conceptual design will be completed by the end of 2016," Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
The institute has been operating major high-energy physics projects in China, such as the Beijing Electron Positron Collider and the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino experiment. Now scientists are proposing a more ambitious new accelerator with seven times the energy level of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. The first phase of the project's construction is scheduled to begin between 2020 and 2025.
“So far the Standard Model seems to explain matter, but we know there has to be something beyond the Standard Model,” said Denise Caldwell, director of the Physics Division of the National Science Foundation. “This potential new physics can only be uncovered with more data that will come with the next LHC run.”
The Standard Model contains no explanation of gravity, which is one of the four fundamental forces in the universe. It also does not explain astronomical observations of dark matter, a type of matter that interacts with our visible universe only through gravity, nor does it explain why matter prevailed over antimatter during the formation of the early universe. The small mass of the Higgs boson also suggests that matter is fundamentally unstable.
Gerald Hooft, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, said in an interview to Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera that China's proposed collider, if built, "will bring hundreds, probably thousands, of top class scientists with different specializations, from pure theory to experimental physics and engineering, from abroad to China". Chinese scientists have completed an initial conceptual design of a super giant particle collider which will be bigger and more powerful than any particle accelerator on Earth.
In July 2012, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, announced that it had discovered the long sought-after Higgs boson－the "God particle", regarded as the crucial link that could explain why other elementary particles have mass－on LHC. The discovery was believed to be one of the most important in physics for decades. Scientists are hopeful that it will further explain nature and the universe we live in.
The high-energy frontier has traditionally had one primary goal, to probe directly any uncharted physics waters. This has translated into the gigantic effort to complete the unobserved elements of the Standard Model of particle physics as well as to search for for signs of physics beyond.These measurements form a solid base from which searches for physics beyond the standard model have been launched. Since the discovery of the Higgs in 2012, searches for supersymmetry and several signatures of possible new exotic physics phenomena have been developed, and new parameter space is being explored.
In 2016, the Large Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful proton smasher, is preparing for its biggest run yet which scientists hope will uncover new particles that could dramatically change our understanding of the Universe. Scientists had been gearing up to resume experiments at the LHC this week, but the plans were delayed after a weasel wandered onto a high-voltage electrical transformer last Friday, causing a short-circuit. CERN told AFP that experiments were now expected to get underway next week.
The LHC, housed in a 27-kilometre (17-mile) tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border, has shaken up physics before. In 2012 it was used to prove the existence of the Higgs Boson -- the long-sought maker of mass -- by crashing high-energy proton beams at velocities near the speed of light. (A proton-lead ion collision, shown below as observed by the LHCb detector during the 2013 data-taking period LHCb/CERN). The giant lab might prove the exotic theory of supersymmetry, SUSY for short, which suggests the existence of a heavier "sibling" for every particle in the universe. The unexpected excess pair of photons spotted last year could be a larger cousin of the Higgs, according to one theory.
While LHC is composed of 27-kilometer-long accelerator chains and detectors buried 100 meters underground at the border of Switzerland and France, scientists only managed to spot hundreds of Higgs boson particles, not enough to learn the structure and other features of the particle.
With a circumference of 50 to 100 km, however, the proposed Chinese accelerator Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) will generate millions of Higgs boson particles, allowing a more precise understanding.
"The technical route we chose is different from LHC. While LHC smashes together protons, it generates Higgs particles together with many other particles," Wang said. "The proposed CEPC, however, collides electrons and positrons to create an extremely clean environment that only produces Higgs particles," he added.
The Higgs boson factory is only the first step of the ambitious plan. A second-phase project named SPPC (Super Proton-Proton Collider) is also included in the design－a fully upgraded version of LHC.
LHC shut down for upgrading in early 2013 and restarted in June with an almost doubled energy level of 13 TeV, a measurement of electron volts.
"LHC is hitting its limits of energy level, it seems not possible to escalate the energy dramatically at the existing facility," Wang said. The proposed SPPC will be a 100 TeV proton-proton collider.
If everything moves forward as proposed, the construction of the first phase project CEPC will start between 2020 and 2025, followed by the second phase in 2040.
"China brings to this entire discussion a certain level of newness. They are going to need help, but they have financial muscle and they have ambition," said Nima Arkani Hamed from the Institute for Advanced Study in the United States, who joined the force to promote CEPC in the world.
David J. Gross, a US particle physicist and 2004 Nobel Prize winner, wrote in a commentary co-signed by US theoretical physicist Edward Witten that although the cost of the project would be great, the benefits would also be great. "China would leap to a leadership position in an important frontier area of basic science," he wrote.