A major upgrade began on Friday for the world’s most powerful proton smasher to increase the number of particle collisions inside the Large Hadron Collider and help further explore the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
The work involves heavy civil engineering at the LHC’s two main sites in Switzerland and France which are run by Europe’s physics lab CERN, that will allow it to operate in a high-luminosity mode from 2026.
“By 2026, this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena,” CERN said.
The aim is increase tenfold the amount of data which can be picked up by the LHC, which is housed in a 27-kilometre (17-mile) ring-shaped tunnel buried more than 100 metres underground that runs beneath the border of Switzerland and France.
The powerful accelerator, which began operating in 2010, smashes high-energy protons into each other at velocities near the speed of light.