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Last Update: 2018-07-26   Source: Research Headlines
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Gaining a deeper understanding of the universe

Under the InnovFin Large Projects facility, a CHF 250-million loan has been provided to increase the capacity of the High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research's (CERN) central project for the decade. The expansion will help open up new commercial possibilities and deepen understanding of our universe.


© generalfmv #72918381, source: 2018

In March 2010, after decades of work, CERN scientists managed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang in a 27-km-long tunnel on the French-Swiss border, as the HL-LHC’s proton beams collided at the speed of light.

“This is an amazing leap toward a deeper understanding of the conditions of matter,” says Frédérick Bordry, CERN’s director for accelerators and technology. Bordry knows that much study lies ahead, and the project is slated to run at least until the late 2030s.

“We are able to explain now about 4 % of the mass of the universe,” he says. “That’s a great achievement, but it’s still just a small proportion of everything that there is for us to know. Now we want to discover things like dark matter.”

CERN made headlines with its discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle that helps give mass to other particles. Its research has also led to the creation of numerous start-ups, and some of the material is available to companies under licence.

For example, vacuum panels on the roof of Geneva Airport that supply heating and air-conditioning are based on the HL-LHC vacuum. In Italy and Austria, proton-based cancer therapies are being developed, while in France, CERN’s magnets have been adapted for use by neurologists.

This is what the European Investment Bank envisaged when it set up a EUR 300 million credit facility for CERN in 2002. The strength of the subsequent research led to the provision of the EU-backed loan.

CERN’s 22 member countries provide an annual budget of CHF 1.2 billion (EUR 1.03 billion), but this doesn’t cover exceptional needs like the HL-LHC’s expansion. CERN will use the loan for its expansion and reimburse the money on favourable terms.

As a next step, CERN is setting up an initiative with other research institutes and universities to attract private finance to fund the development of research arising from its work.


Project details

  • Project acronym: High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider
  • Participants: Switzerland (Coordinator)
  • Total costs: € 214 867 800
  • EU contribution: €214 867 800
  • Duration: From September 2016

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