The Australian Synchrotron helps its big brother in Geneva

High Energy Physics Conference

The synchrotron’s intense electron beam contributes to the enhancement of the Large Hadron Collider and the design of future accelerators.

The discovery of a Higgs boson-like particle will see the international research effort shift focus to study its unique characteristics – and it is here that Australia’s Synchrotron is playing a collaborative role with CERN.

Australia’s highest energy particle accelerator, which broke the world record for generating the ‘smallest, brightest, most intense electron beam’, is a test bed for the new technologies and techniques needed for the next phase of Higgs boson-related study.

One of CERN’s technology experts, Dr Ralph Steinhagen, has been working with researchers at the Synchrotron in Clayton over the past couple of weeks on studies aimed at increasing the precision of measurements and control of particle beams.

The work will inform the 2013/2014 enhancement of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

“We broke the world record for producing the smallest,  brightest, most intense beam of electrons—a billionth of a millimetre tall,” says Dr Mark Boland, Principal Scientist in Accelerator Physics at the Australian Synchrotron.

“It’s all a matter of control, and we are also working on developing new technology to make the beam as stable as we can.”

That is of interest to CERN, says Steinhagen, because the characteristics of light generated at the Australian Synchrotron are in many ways very similar to the LHC. “But it’s much more accessible,” he says. “So we are trying to pioneer future beam technology in Melbourne.”

Physicists say the recent announcement from CERN, that two independent experiments at the LHC near Geneva had verified the creation of a Higgs-like particle, will usher in decades of research to determine the particle’s characteristics.

Being able to generate a stable and reliable supply of Higgs boson-like particles is vital to this work.

Apart from creating Higgs bosons, the research is important to the development of more intense and compact X-ray beams for synchrotrons.  “These so-called 4th generation sources will allow us to take movies of chemical reactions and the processes of molecular biology,” Boland says.

As part of this research program by the Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science (ACAS), the CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer and CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci visited the experiments at the Australian Synchrotron light source in Clayton yesterday.

Photo by Matthew Wootton

Also today:

What’s next for particle physics? IceCube and the CERN Director General closes the conference.

For further information:

  • Dr Ralph Steinhagen, CERN, +61 468 469 120
  • Dr Mark Boland, Principal Scientist, Accelerator Physics, Australian Synchrotron +61 401 994 876 or

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