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China To Build The World’s Largest Particle Collider

High-tech meets high-power

Michael Cruickshank
China To Build The World’s Largest Particle Collider© 2018 CERN

China already has the world's largest dam, longest wall, and fastest supercomputer, but its ambition doesn't stop there. It is now being reported that the country is planning to also build the world’s longest and most powerful particle collider.

Particle colliders, also known as particle accelerators, or ‘atom-smashers’ are high tech systems which scientists use to observe the way they world works on a subatomic scale. To do this, they use magnetic propulsion to massively accelerate a single atom or particle, as it passes around a looping track. These particles are then slammed into each other at high speed, and the resulting pieces of these collision are studied. Such devices have previous facilitated the creation of antimatter, and the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the so-called ‘God Particle’.

Image: © 2014 CERN

The proposed Chinese collider will take the form of a massive ‘megastructure’ composing of a loop more than 52 km long. This loop structure will allow Chinese scientists to create incredibly energetic particle collisions at up to 70 TeV. By comparison, the world’s current largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is only half as long, measuring in at 27km, and only a fraction as powerful, with a maximum collision energy of 17 TeV.

The Chinese collider will be a 52km long megastructure.

The project which is being established by the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing will reportedly cost $3 billion, a bill which will at least be partially covered by the Chinese government. Construction is expected to begin within the next five years, but despite this, the project will take at least a decade to complete, with most estimates not putting it as fully operational until 2028

While China currently has the most thoroughly planned proposal, other countries and groups also have their own plans. The US and Europe, who currently run the LHC, are reportedly planning to build an even bigger particle collider, with an proposed length of over 100 km. Should this be built, it would be much more powerful still than the Chinese built project, and enable yet greater detail in the study of the mysterious subatomic world.

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