Large Hadron Collider
The Particle Physics Group of the University of Antwerp has a long and outstanding tradition in experimental and phenomenological research concerning particle collisions as conducted by the largest particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (Switzerland).
This worldwide scientific endeavor was started 20 years ago that ended its preparatory phase in 2009 with the completion of the world’s largest particle accelerator: the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC. The LHC accelerates protons and heavier ions to velocities close to the speed of light in a 27 km long vacuum tube surrounded by superconducting magnets in an underground tunnel between the French-Swiss border near Geneva at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.
The LHC machine and its associated experiments concentrate an unprecedented amount of human and financial resources (6000 scientists and roughly 6 billion Euros) with as sole purpose the attempt to overthrow the so-far successful Standard Model and to empirically verify candidate successor theories. In doing so, the project has continuously pushed the boundaries of technology among many others in the field of superconductivity, vacuum technology, radio frequency techniques, micro-electronics, telecommunication and computing.
On 4 July 2012, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider announced they had each observed a new particle in the mass region around 125 GeV. This particle is consistent with the Higgs boson but it will take further work to determine whether or not it is the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model.
The Compact Muon Solenoid
The University of Antwerp and its Particle Physics Research Group have taken part in this global and highly competitive enterprise at CERN since its foundation. The research group has contributed to the design and construction of one of the large particle detectors that surround the LHC accelerator, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). The Antwerp research team is currently active in a variety of research lines exploiting the CMS data, while simultaneously developing strategies for future projects beyond the guaranteed 15 year research program of the LHC.
The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is a general-purpose detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is designed to investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter. Although it has the same scientific goals as the ATLAS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and a different magnet-system design.
The CMS experiment is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, involving 5000 particle physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff from 200 institutes in 50 countries (September 2019).
The CMS detector is built around a huge solenoid magnet. This takes the form of a cylindrical coil of superconducting cable that generates a field of 4 tesla, about 100,000 times the magnetic field of the Earth. The field is confined by a steel “yoke” that forms the bulk of the detector’s 12,500-tonne weight. An unusual feature of the CMS detector is that instead of being built in-situ like the other giant detectors of the LHC experiments, it was constructed in 15 sections at ground level before being lowered into an underground cavern near Cessy in France and reassembled. The complete detector is 21 metres long, 15 metres wide and 15 metres high.