CERN's LHC takes a post-Higgs rest for a Synchrotron facelift

After finding the elusive Higgs Boson, CERN is now giving the Large Hadron Collider a break while it renovates the facility.

The LHC is taking a break. Image: CERN

With 100 petabytes of data under its belt, CERN is powering down the 27km Large Hadron Collider to revamp the machine that helped scientists last July find the Higgs boson particle .

The LHC's "long shutdown 1" or "LS1" is set to begin on 13 February, with maintenance occurring across CERN's whole particle accelerator chain in preparation for higher-energy running.

"We'll essentially be rebuilding the interconnections between LHC magnets, so when we resume running in 2015, we will be able to operate the machine at its design energy of 7TeV per beam," Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators and technology, said in a statement on Thursday.

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That means no more particle collisions for the next two years until the LHC's scheduled resume date of 2015, but work at CERN's laboratory will continue.

Beyond LHC, CERN will renovate its much older proton accelerator, Proton Synchrotron, which had its first run in 1959, and the newer Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), in addition to ongoing work installing biometric access controls to the accelerator. The SPS work schedule also includes repairing about 100km of radiation-damaged cables.

"A whole series of renovation work will be carried out around the LHC during LS1," Simon Baird, deputy head of the Engineering department, said.

"The key driver is of course the consolidation of the 10,170 high-current splices between the superconducting magnets. The teams will start by opening up the 1,695 interconnections between each of the cryostats of the main magnets. They will repair and consolidate around 500 interconnections simultaneously. The maintenance work will gradually cover the entire 27-kilometre circumference of the LHC."