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LHC to begin heavy-ion smashing

Cern will run experiments to accelerate and collide lead-ions in the Large Hadron Collider, the organisation has said.The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will accelerate lead atoms stripped of electrons to produce quark-gluon plasma, and to study its evolution into matter, said a Cern statement on Thursday.
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Written by Tom Espiner on

Cern will run experiments to accelerate and collide lead-ions in the Large Hadron Collider, the organisation has said.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will accelerate lead atoms stripped of electrons to produce quark-gluon plasma, and to study its evolution into matter, said a Cern statement on Thursday.

"Heavy-ion collisions provide a unique micro-laboratory for studying very hot, dense matter,” said Jurgen Schukraft in the statement. Schukraft is the spokesperson for the Alice experiment, which is optimised to study lead-ion collisions at the LHC. "At the LHC we’ll be continuing a journey that began for Cern in 1994, which is certain to provide a new window on the fundamental behaviour of matter and in particular the role of the strong interaction."

Cern has been running proton physics experiments in the LHC for a year.

Heavy-ion collisions will run for the next month, a Cern spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Thursday. The experiments will run until early December, when there will be a maintenance stop. The LHC will then test protons and heavy ions for a year, followed by a year when the experiment is shut down to prepare it for experiments running at a total energy of 14 TeV, or 7 TeV per beam.

LHC achieved a total energy of 7 TeV in March. Proton experiments have so far validated aspects of the Standard Model of particles and forces. LHC has seen the first observations of the top quark in proton-proton collisions; limits set on the production of certain new particles; and hints of effects in proton-proton collisions that may be linked to previous observations in the collisions of heavy ions, said the Cern statement.

Cern physicists hope that collisions at 14 TeV will provide new physics, and validate the existence of the Higgs Boson or 'God-particle'.

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