The particle believed to have created stars and planets at the dawn of the universe is yet to be found, physicists have said.
Scientists at the CERN research centre near Geneva are hoping that 2012 could turn up traces of the Higgs Boson particle.
After intensive scrutiny of the results of more than 70 million particle collisions in CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) failed to reveal the particle, CERN director-general Rolf Heuer said: "I hope the big discoveries will come next year."
He was speaking at an international conference of physicists in Grenoble, France, at which presentations of the results of research in the LHC were a key highlight.
Some CERN scientists have reported seeing strange "fluctuations" in the data gathered from the mega-velocity collisions staged in the oval-shaped LHC, although they warned these could simply be misreadings or passing phenomena.
They said it was important to avoid "discovering" the Higgs before it was found, as one researcher had done earlier this year.
The Higgs is named after British physicist Peter Higgs who said three decades back that it was the agent that turned the matter spewed out by the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago into the mass that became the material of the known cosmos.
Some scientists worry that it may not exist at all, or not in the form suggested by Higgs and two Belgian researchers who came up with the idea at the same time in the late 1970s.
"One way or another, it or something like it has to be there, otherwise we wouldn't be here," Heuer said in 2008, just before LHC's first, aborted, $10 billion start-up.
It resumed operations successfully in March 2010.
Discovery of the Higgs would complete the essential elements of the so-called Standard Model of physics that emerged from the work of Albert Einstein and his successors early in the 20th century, and cleared the way for "New Physics".
This domain would include super-symmetry, the underpinning of string theory and the idea of parallel universes, dark matter or the hidden stuff of the cosmos, and the dark energy that is believed to be driving galaxies apart.
The vast volumes of information gathered so far from the LHC particle collisions, each effectively recreating the Big Bang and what came just after, "provide sound bases for the discoveries to come," Heuer told CERN staff at the weekend.
"Our field of physics, which focuses on rare phenomena, requires a huge volume of statistics," he said.