The currently tested supermagnets are made of niobium tin

New supermagnets to unlock Cern's possibilities

New type of supermagnets will allow a tenfold increase of the power of Cern’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

A product of the US LHC Accelerator Research program (LARP), the new magnets are among the most critical components required for major upgrades of the collider due to be implemented in the next ten years.

Magnets form the crucial part of the collider, squeezing and focusing beams of charged particles and directing them to a point of high-energy collision inside a detector.

The new magnets, along with other upgrades, will allow the LHC to collect a larger amount of data at higher energies, making it possible to search for more massive, potentially hidden particles than ever before.

“If you enter a dark room with only a candle, the room will be dim, and the candle will soon burn out,” said Lucio Rossi, the leader of the high luminosity project at Cern, explaining how the researches will benefit from the new magnets. “If you have a high-powered flashlight, not only can you see more of the room, but you also have enough time to get a good look around.”

Unlike the current metal alloy magnets made of niobium titanium, the new magnets will be based on a more heat tolerant niobium tin. The increased heat tolerance will allow for a larger window of superconductivity and enable the magnets to sustain a higher magnetic field for a longer period of time.

“Thanks to this magnet, we will have more collisions, more statistics and more rare events,” Rossi said. “If there is physics beyond the Standard Model, these magnets will shed light on it.”

The niobium tin magnets are still under development as scientists are trying to overcome their fragility. However, they believe, the technology could eventually find applications beyond the high-energy physics domain – for example in medical imaging and cancer treatment.

The LARP project is a collaboration among the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Berkeley and SLAC national laboratories, working in partnership with Cern.

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