When the electron ion collider was given the green light in January 2020, it became the only major new accelerator under construction anywhere in the world.
“All the stars have aligned,” said Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist and leader in developing EIC plans. “We have the technology to build this unique particle accelerator and detector to perform the measurements which, along with the theory behind it, can for the first time provide answers to long-standing fundamental questions in nuclear physics.
The EIC is not the only Brookhaven project poised to reshape nuclear and particle physics. Upcoming data from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider could finally detect the elusive chiral magnetic effect. Meanwhile, the planned accelerators could run on sustainable energy, a radical departure from today’s machines.
At a press conference at the April 2021 APS meeting, researchers will discuss how advanced accelerators might collide with energy use and our assumptions about the nature of matter. .
A powerful new facility for nuclear physics
“Scientific advances in the EIC will help us all understand where we came from and how the visible matter around us is made up of its building blocks,” said Aschenauer.
The accelerator and detector will serve as a sort of camera, taking 3D images and films of electrons colliding with protons and polarized ions. Much like a scanner for atoms, the EIC will allow scientists to see how force-carrying gluon particles hold quarks, the internal components of protons and neutrons together. It will also offer information on the spin of fundamental particles.
Aschenauer will give updates on the status of the first year of the EIC project – a collaboration between BNL and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility – and an overview of its experimental equipment.
In search of the chiral magnetic effect
The EIC will rely on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which will soon produce its own major results.
In the summer of 2021, the data analysis will likely conclude with an experiment looking for decisive evidence of the chiral magnetic effect. This proposed effect helps explain many fundamental features of the Standard Model and could explain why our universe contains far more matter than antimatter, which is crucial for human existence.
Jinfeng Liao, a theoretical nuclear physicist at Indiana University at Bloomington, will share key predictions about what the experiment might reveal.
“The signatures, as predicted by our theoretical study, clearly show the promise of unambiguously establishing the existence of a chiral magnetic effect in the isobaric collision experiment,” Liao said.
Liao and his colleagues created a custom computational tool based on fluid dynamics to simulate experimental collisions and any changes the chiral magnetic effect would cause.
They show that the new experiment has a better chance of detecting the effect than previous attempts, long plagued by weak signals and heavy background contamination. The predictions were published in Physical examination letters.
Probing deep subatomic questions requires a lot of power.
“Large particle accelerators use an extremely large amount of energy,” said Georg Hoffstaetter, professor at Cornell University.
He will share the results of the Cornell-BNL Test Accelerator, or CBETA, the first in the world to accelerate a beam multiple times while fueling itself by reusing the energy from the beam. It further reduces the demand for electricity with superconducting and magnetic equipment.
Energy recovery Linac technology that activates the test accelerator could lead to smaller particle accelerators with higher beam currents and lower energy consumption.
“People can benefit from industrial applications of energy harvesting Linacs by using better computer chips, by being treated in radiation therapy centers that guide beams with permanent magnets, or by inhaling medical isotopes produced by accelerators.” , Hoffstaetter said.
Building on the success of the test accelerator, its principal investigator and Brookhaven principal physicist Dejan Trbojevic will present designs for a new green energy collider. The particles travel along the beamlines of the circuits, formed of high-quality permanent magnets that do not require the use of electrical energy.
“The Green Accelerator” shows a whole new way of accelerating particles with very strict control of their movement and with an extremely high energy range. It has never been done before, ”Trbojevic said.
He will show how the EIC, as well as a similar accelerator being considered at the Large Hadron Collider, could integrate energy saving features.