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Hard Science

Chinese Particle Collider Smashes Previous Luminosity Records

It's 100 times better than before.

Todd JaquithApril 14th 2016

Smashing Records

On April 5th, the Beijing Electron Positron Collider (BEPCII) achieved a luminosity of 1×1033cm-2s-1, which is 100 times better than before its recent upgrade.

Luminosity, in particle collider speak, is the ratio of the number of events (collisions, in this case) during a certain time to the interaction cross section. Essentially, it’s a means of measuring a collider’s power and performance; the higher the luminosity, the more effective an instrument it is for scientific research.

Researchers at the Institute of High Energy Physics report that, after a spate of difficulties with its hardware earlier this year, the BEPCII has been functioning well, and the Beijing Spectrometer III (BESIII) has been recording data.

Aerial view of the Beijing Electron Positron Collider. Credit: IHEP/CAS

Getting Up There

The BEPCII is a double-ring electron-positron (e-e+) collider, which operates in the colorfully named “tau-charm energy region”—about 2.0 to 4.6 GeV (gigaelectronvolt). With the April 5th breakthrough, the BEPCII has achieved its design luminosity, which is an improvement over its predecessor by a factor of 100.

Only the Japanese KEKB facility operates at a higher luminosity for electron-positron colliders, regularly operating at the 1×1034cm-2s-1 range. And the Chinese collider is number one for its particular niche—the tau-charm energy region.

That’s a lot of numbers to wrap one’s head around, but the real point is that China is accelerating (pun intended) its efforts to achieve scientific parity with such Western particle research facilities as the LHC and others at CERN, and the Tevatron at Fermilab. Recently, the country has unveiled plans to surpass the LHC with their own “Higgs Factory.”

This latest landmark is an important step in that direction. With China rapidly becoming famous for its astonishing, large-scale construction and engineering projects, it’s exciting to see what ambitious projects they can achieve in the fields of cutting-edge scientific research.

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