Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory officially broke ground March 15 on a major new particle accelerator project that will power cutting-edge physics experiments for many decades to come.
The new 700-foot-long linear accelerator, part of the laboratory’s Proton Improvement Plan II (PIP-II), will be the first accelerator project built in the United States with significant contributions from international partners. When complete, the new machine will become the heart of the laboratory’s accelerator complex, vastly improving what is already the world’s most powerful particle beam for neutrino experiments and providing for the long-term future of the diverse research program at Fermilab, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago.
The new PIP-II accelerator’s flexible design will enable it to work as a new first stage for Fermilab’s chain of accelerators, powering both the laboratory’s flagship project – the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), hosted by Fermilab – and its extensive suite of on-site particle physics experiments, including searches for new particles and new forces in our universe.
DUNE is under construction now, and will be the most advanced experiment in the world studying ghostly, invisible particles called neutrinos. These particles may hold the key to cosmic mysteries that have baffled scientists for decades. The DUNE collaboration brings together more than 1,000 scientists from over 180 institutions in more than 30 countries, all with a single goal: to better understand these elusive particles and what they can tell us about the universe.
“Breaking ground on the PIP-II accelerator today signals the start of a new era at Fermilab, one of new construction, new experiments and new excitement around the laboratory’s research program,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “I’m pleased and proud to begin this era with the people of this laboratory, and our partners around the world.”