A 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.
Since the fall of 2012 the LHC experiments are producing high quality experimental data. The University of Antwerp and its Elementary Particle Physics research group has taken part in this global and highly competitive enterprise 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.