The Future Circular Collider (FCC) collaboration proposed a new circular collider to be built that will dwarf the world’s largest collider, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), having almost four times the length of the LHC.
Looking Beyond the Large Hadron Collider
In a four-volume report, the Conceptual Design Report, the FCC collaboration—a collection of over a thousand physicists from over 100 universities—proposed various designs for a new circular collider to replace the LHC in the next few decades.
In it, the collaboration discussed the possibilities for the future of physics that machines capable of producing such tremendous energy. They also broke down the technical problems that would need to be solved, as well as scheduled completion and costs associated with the designs.
The FCC study began back in 2014 as a result of the 2013 recommendation by the European Strategy for Particle Physics, a consensus of the broader particle physics community about the direction of the field when it comes to projects such as the FCC.
The goal was for Europe “to be in a position to propose an ambitious post-LHC accelerator project at CERN by the time of the next Strategy update”.
“The FCC conceptual design report is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of CERN. “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.
“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.”
While the LHC has provided extraordinary results in its decade of operation, it has its limitations. The discovery of the Higgs boson wouldn’t be possible without the LHC, but exploring the properties of the Higgs boson requires more energy than the LHC can provide.
The FCC will be able to explore these properties, as well as study other phenomena that require new physics to explain, such as the imbalance between predominant matter over scarcer antimatter and the nature of dark matter.
The Future Circular Collider at a Glance
The proposed project is massive in scale. The proposal calls for a 100-km superconducting proton accelerator ring, with energies as high as 100 TeV, producing a particle collider more powerful than the LHC by a whole order of magnitude.
According to Frédérick Bordry, CERN Director for Accelerators and Technology, the FCC would be developed in steps. “The FCC timeline foresees starting with an electron-positron machine, just as LEP preceded the LHC.”
“This would enable a rich programme to benefit the particle physics community throughout the twenty-first century.”
The cost of the initial electron-positron collider (EPC) would cost around 9 billion euros, while the 100-km tunnel to house it would cost an additional 5 billion. Planners hope that physics work could begin using this EPC in 2040.
Afterward, they would move on to building the superconducting proton machine that would use the tunnel at the cost of about 15 billion euros, usable by 2050 for physics research.
“A future circular collider would offer extraordinary opportunities for industry, helping to push the limits of technology further,” according to CERN. “It would also provide exceptional training for a new generation of researchers and engineers.”