The CLIC accelerator collaboration has elected a new spokesperson. Phil Burrows of the University of Oxford succeeds Roberto Corsini of CERN. Over the next three years, Phil will be engaging with the institutes that are members of CLIC and helping to ensure that CLIC’s R&D programme pushes ahead during the critical phase ahead of the next update of the European strategy for particle physics. Roberto will continue his technical leadership of CLIC/CTF3.
The most recent European strategy for particle physics was published in 2013. Recognizing the international collaborations that will be needed to make scientific advances, it sets out the future priorities for European particle physics research.
The strategy is due to be updated in 2018, and that’s likely to be the timescale for decisions on the future direction for CLIC. With other potential successors to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the table, Burrows says there will be tough decisions to be made about the best choice for the next big particle physics machine in Europe. "Any future proposed project would be expensive to build. We might be able to afford one in Europe, but definitely not two or more."
"CLIC remains the only viable technology today that could take us to multi-TeV centre of mass electron-positron collisions," he says. "But we need more LHC results to assess whether it is the right machine to take us into new areas of physics research. LHC results over the next few years of running at higher energy and luminosity will be key to determining the way forward.”
The LHC has already discovered the Higgs boson. The proposed International Linear Collider (ILC) in Japan is, in essence, a Higgs and top-quark factory for better understanding these particles. If the LHC finds evidence of additional new particles, for example supersymmetric particles, around the 1TeV mass scale, there could be a compelling physics argument for CLIC. In this and other scenarios there could also be strong motivation to pursue a high-energy proton-proton or electron-positron supercollider.
Using the CLIC Test Facility (CTF3), the key concepts of CLIC have already been tested and proved. Probably the most innovative element of the CLIC design is that it has two beams – a drive beam and a main beam. "We’ve demonstrated that it is possible to transfer energy from the drive beam and feed it to the main beam," says Burrows. "Now we need to work on more of the technical implementation and system optimization, not least how to mass produce the components that we need – essential for keeping the cost of the project as low as possible."
For the next few years, the focus is definitely on CLIC R&D, but Phil will undoubtedly have more than half an eye on results coming out of the LHC when it starts operating again in 2015.