New CERN particle accelerator set to run under Lake Geneva

New super particle accelerator is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2040s.

Timo Kirez  | 06.02.2024 - Update : 07.02.2024
New CERN particle accelerator set to run under Lake Geneva


The route of CERN's new Future Circular Collider (FCC) particle accelerator will run under Lake Geneva, as outlined in an interim report presented by the management of the European Organization for Nuclear Research on Monday.

The presentation in Geneva, Switzerland, which was livestreamed, focused on the feasibility of the international project, which is due to go into operation in the mid-2040s.

According to the report, the new particle accelerator FCC has a circumference of 91 kilometers (56.5 miles) to achieve a collision energy of 100 teraelectronvolts (TeV). The current particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), achieves 14 TeV.

Older construction concepts for the new particle accelerator were based on a circumference of 100 kilometers (62.1 miles), but better magnets allow a somewhat smaller design.

The current LHC particle accelerator became famous in 2012 because it was used to discover the so-called Higgs boson particle.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2033. The tunnel for the particle accelerator with a diameter of 5.5 meters (18.04 feet) will run 30 meters (98.4 miles) below the bed of the Rhone River and at least 100 meters (328 feet) below the bottom of Lake Geneva.

Initially, electrons and positrons are to be collided in the new particle accelerator, before experiments with heavier protons are to follow from around the 2070s.

"It is not only a wonderful instrument for understanding physics, but also a driver of innovation," said CERN Director General Fabiola Gianotti during the presentation of the report.

She added: "The challenge is to study the properties of matter at the smallest scale and at the highest energy."

However, before construction can begin, the 23 CERN member countries, including Germany and France, must approve the concept.

The costs have not yet been precisely tallied, but are estimated at €15 to 20 billion ($16.1 to 21.4 billion).

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