At the end of August, two months ahead of schedule, the integrated luminosity delivered by the LHC reached the 2016 target value of 25 fb–1 in both the ATLAS and CMS experiments. The milestone is the result of a large group of scientists and technical experts who work behind the scenes to keep the 27 km-circumference machine operating at the highest possible performance.
Following a push to produce as many proton–proton collisions as possible before the summer conferences, several new ideas, such as a novel beam-production technique in the injectors, have been incorporated to boost the LHC performance. Thanks to these improvements, over the summer the LHC was routinely operating with peak luminosities 10%–15% above the design value of 1034 cm–2 s–1.
This is a notable success, especially considering that a temporary limitation in the Super Proton Synchrotron only allows the injection of 2220 bunches per beam instead of the foreseen 2750, and that the LHC energy is currently limited to 6.5 TeV instead of the nominal 7 TeV. The excellent availability of all the key systems of the LHC is one of the main reasons behind these achievements.
The accelerator team is now gearing up for the season finale. Following a technical stop, a forward proton–proton physics run took place in mid-September. Proton–proton physics is scheduled to continue until the last week in October, after which proton–lead physics will take over for a period of one month. The LHC and its experiments can look forward to the completion of what is already a very successful year.