Ending the century on a century

29 April 1999

During the current shutdown, CERN’s LEP electron­positron collider is undergoing a major overhaul and is also being fitted with even more superconducting radiofrequency accelerating cavities, in order to boost its energy.

In addition, the 288 superconducting cavities are being tweaked to boost their accelerating gradients from the design value of 6 to 7 MV/m in an attempt to increase LEP’s energy to the landmark level of 100 GeV for each beam.

When LEP became operational in 1989, it operated both at and around the Z resonance, which called for some 45 GeV for each beam. As well as the technical challenge that this represents, the goal of increasing the beam energy is also subject to the formal approval of the French authorities.

LEP running at 100 GeV per beam (and possibly even beyond) will be the machine’s finale. After its run in the year 2000, attention will be switched over to the Herculean task of removing equipment from the 27 km ring and from its ancillary klystron tunnels prior to construction and installation for the LHC proton collider.

With the machine already prospecting physics territory that is deemed to be rich in discovery potential, the LEP stage appears to be set for a dramatic final act.

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